Z EventEven though the world is more connected than ever, poverty remains a large problem as many people are left behind. Fortunately, the internet has been used as a platform for change, resulting in unprecedented awareness of global poverty. One example of this is Z Event, a French charity project hosted annually on the live streaming website Twitch. Z Event started with just two people who wanted global change. The video gaming event has been shattering world records and raising millions of dollars for charity.

Twitch Live Stream Platform

Z Event would not have been possible without the rise of the Twitch platform. Twitch is a website that people can use for live streaming. This means that whatever viewers are watching is happening in real-time. This creates a new world of interactivity. While Twitch was originally created for live streaming video games, the website has now expanded into other genres like art, music and chess. Twitch now has a massive following, with over 140 million monthly users.

It was only a matter of time before content creators used Twitch as a platform to raise money for charity. In July 2013, Summer Games Done Quick raised $257,181 for Doctors Without Borders in a charity stream on Twitch. As Twitch started growing in popularity, charity streams became even more popular. In 2019, Twitch streamer “DrLupo”, raised more than $2.3 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in 24 hours.

Video Gaming: Z Event

With the success of charity streams in the past and the increasing global presence of Twitch, the time was right for Z Event. In March 2016, a charity stream called “Avengers Project” raised 170,000 euros for Save the Children. The goal of the project was to gather every popular French streamer to raise awareness for certain issues. While the project started small, the annual event grew considerably. In 2017, the now named “Z Event” raised 500,000 euros. Z Event is the annual charity event by French streamers ZeratoR and Dach. As the project grew larger, more popular French streamers joined the event. In 2020, 41 Twitch streamers participated in the event.

Video Gaming for a Cause

While each individual streamer is popular on their own, their platform increases exponentially when combined. In 2020, the event had an average of 248 thousand viewers with a peak of nearly 700 thousand viewers. This large amount of awareness led to large sums of money raised for charity. In 2019, Z Event hit the world record for most money raised in a charity stream on Twitch, over 3.5 million euros. In 2020, Z Event shattered its own record, raising over 5.7 million euros, which is approximately $6.7 million.

Each year, the event raises money for a different cause. The money raised in 2019 was for the Pasteur Institute, a nonprofit organization that researches diseases. In 2020, Z Event raised money for Amnesty International, an organization focused on global human rights.

Video Gamers Uniting for Charity

These efforts have been applauded by many. Mark Hamill supported Z Event on Twitter and President of France, Emmanuel Macron has also commended the project.

While poverty remains a problem in the world today, the growing platform of the internet along with websites like Twitch show significant promise. Millions of dollars have been raised for charity to fight poverty. France’s Z Event shows that when people come together, the impact is substantial.

– Evan Weber
Photo: Flickr

Greek teachers are making a differenceIn Greece, the debt crisis and political breakdown have triggered inequalities throughout the education system. While education is free, public schools have suffered from budget cuts due to bailout agreements. The result has been a decline in the quality of education. The aftermath of the social crisis in Europe has also led to educational poverty and students failing to achieve minimum education standards. Many students with only basic education often face poverty or unemployment. This is exemplary of the strong correlation between educational attainment and social outcomes. Greek teachers are making a difference in the way their country approaches education to combat this issue.

The Current Situation in Greece

Currently, the level of teaching in Greek schools is being criticized due to the lack of teacher evaluation standards and teaching structures. As a result, more Greeks fear obtaining adequate education in public schools to prepare for higher education. The Panhellenic exams required for university admission in Greece have caused an increase in Greeks pursuing more expensive private education classes. However, with the rise in unemployment rates and a decrease in salaries, poor and middle-class families are unable to pursue private education. In 2015, according to the World Economic Forum Inclusive Growth Development Report, Greece was ranked last of 30 economies due to the relationship between student performance and parent income.

The Varkey Foundation

Greek educators are identifying ways to leverage education through creative curriculum approaches. The Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Award recognizes Greek teachers making a difference through their work across the globe. These teachers work with students to promote inclusivity and integration of migrants in the classroom. Additionally, these educators advocate for child rights and focus on the well-being of the student.

One recipient, Andria Zafirakou, received the Varkey Foundation 1M Global Teacher Prize in 2018. Her commitment to education has led to new initiatives to encourage creativity in schools. Born to Greek-Cypriot parents, Zafirakou has dedicated her entire teaching career to educating students from ethnically diverse communities. She has a passion for education advocacy and changing the lives of young people from underprivileged communities through creativity and art. Following that creative drive has led to her great success as the best teacher in the world.

Artists in Residence

In an amazing act of charity, Andria Zafirakou used her 2018 prize winnings to found Artists in Residence (AIR). She recognized the decline in the number of students demonstrating an interest in art and students pursuing careers in art. As such, the charity focuses on individual student well-being and outcomes in school by providing a curriculum encompassing art education.

AIR strives to increase student aspirations, provide inspirational life opportunities, and prepare students for jobs in creative industries. The program develops a rounded curriculum that supports social and cognitive learning through engagement in art activities. Firstly, it establishes partnerships with schools in developing academic and holistic educational programs. Then, artists and professionals in the creative sector provide their expertise to students by inspiring learning in art.

This collaborative approach exposes students to new skills and opportunities in art, which are truly key to a well-rounded education. Moreover, AIR has been effective in enhancing public awareness and engagement in developing programs to support art education.

Lack of proper education in Greece has proven to be hazardous to societal functions. Nevertheless, through collaborative efforts in educational reform and the people of Greece’s commitment to education, Greece’s educational system is expected to see improvements. However, teachers are indispensable in addressing these issues. Greek teachers make a crucial difference by discovering innovative ways to implement change within the education system one school at a time.

Brandi Hale
Photo: Flickr

The Benefits of Giving, How Generosity Can Improve Your HealthNow more than ever, the world needs more compassion and generosity. Many are suffering mentally and emotionally as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic—and one possible way to alleviate this is to show kindness to others. According to experts, generosity can have a positive impact on individuals’ well-being. There are many benefits of giving, improving the health and financial well-being of not only the receiver but the giver too.

How Generosity Improves Emotional Health

The concept of “helper’s high” refers to the positive emotional response one experiences after performing an act of generosity. According to experts, this emotion is associated with “greater health and increased longevity.” A recent study has proven that acts of altruism trigger activity in the temporoparietal junction (TPJ), a part of the brain that is linked to the brain’s reward system.

During a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, the giving and receiving parties can benefit from generosity. Another study found that different types of generosity can have different effects on individuals. The researchers found that performing generous acts for those close to us can reduce activity in the amygdala, a part of the human brain associated with stress and anxiety.

However, they also found that less targeted actions, such as giving to charity, also trigger activity in the ventral striatum, a region associated with compassion and care in mammals. Time and time again, studies have shown that acts of kindness toward both your loved ones and strangers can improve your mental and emotional health. Thus, it is especially important during this unprecedented time of crisis to find ways to show kindness.

How Giving Can Improve Your Financial Well-Being

On top of reducing one’s own stress and emotional turmoil, there are financial benefits of giving. During the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of Americans have struggled as a result of business closures, limited job opportunities and a struggling economy. Although it may seem counterintuitive to donate money to others when finances seem scarce, there are both practical and mental benefits to giving.

Under the current federal COVID-19 relief provisions, donating money can provide more tax breaks than ever before. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or the CARES Act for short, allows individuals up to $300 in charitable contribution deductions. It also raised the limit on charitable contributions from 60 to “up to 100% of 2020 adjusted gross income,” if the deductions are itemized.

The financial benefits of giving do not just end at tax deductions, though. Financial planner Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz believes that charitable contributions are important to reformulate the ways in which we perceive money. Money should be spent wisely, and that includes putting it toward causes and issues that one cares about.

Ways to Give

During the COVID-19 pandemic, generosity, compassion and giving are especially important. There are also more ways than ever to help, both big and small. One easy way is to complete small tasks such as grocery shopping or making care packages for your loved ones who are more vulnerable to COVID-19. There are also ways to support your community such as by making and distributing cloth face masks or by collecting and donating food for those in need. An even simpler way to help is through donations. There are many around the world who are suffering as a result of the ongoing pandemic, so now is a great time to give to causes you care about.

Individuals suffering from extreme poverty can be more susceptible to COVID-19 and can suffer more from the pandemic’s socio-economic consequences. The Borgen Project is accepting donations so that it can do as much as possible to make this issue central to American foreign policy in the future. Donating will not only help those who need it the most but the donator too.

– Leina Gabra
Photo: Flickr 

Indigenous communities in Canada

The Canadian Constitution recognizes three Indigenous communities — First Nations, Métis, and Inuit. Here are five of the many Indigenous-led organizations in Canada, collectively working to create success and prosperity for Indigenous communities.

5 Canadian Organizations for Indigenous Prosperity

  1. First Nations Information Governance CentreThe First Nations Information Governance Centre (FNIGC) is working to achieve data sovereignty. With support from regional partners and a special mandate from the Assembly of First Nations’ Chiefs in Assembly (Resolution #48, December 2009), the FNIGC collects and uses data to “build culturally relevant portraits of the lives of First Nations people and the communities they live in.” Their motto, “our data, our stories, our future” reflects their vision of Indigenous stories being told by Indigenous people, for Indigenous people.
  2. IndspireIndspire is using the gift of learning to help provide academic success and long-term prosperity with support through financial aid, scholarships/bursaries, awards, mentoring and physical resources.
  3. Aboriginal Financial Officers Association of Canada – Aboriginal Financial Officers Association of Canada (AFOA) is creating a community of Indigenous professionals by supporting successful self-determination through “improving the management skills of those responsible for the stewardship of Indigenous resources.” This includes aid in management, finance and governance.
  4. Reconciliation CanadaReconciliation Canada facilitates the engagement of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people with meaningful conversations on reconciliation and the lived experiences of Indigenous people. They aim to inspire positive change and understanding. At present, the programs and initiatives offered by the charity are Reconciliation in Action: A National Engagement Strategy, Reconciliation Dialogue Workshops, interactive community outreach activities and Reconciliation Canada.
  5. First Nations Child and Family Caring SocietyThe Caring Society supports First Nations children, youth and families. The organization has been able to provide 250,000 services and products to Indigenous children by putting Indigenous children and families first.

These five organizations are just some of many who are working to support success and prosperity for Indigenous communities in Canada. Their work helps blaze a path for a brighter future for Indigenous people and the country alike.

– Jasmeen Bassi
Photo: Flickr

How COVID-19 Will Impact This Holiday SeasonAs the holiday season approaches, there are many questions on how this holiday will look socially and economically amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March, the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has shown a significant loss following a few months of growth prior to the pandemic. Due to high levels of unemployment and potential health risks of indoor shopping and gatherings, it can be anticipated that we will not see an economic boom this holiday season. Purchases of gifts will lower due to limited budgets and food shopping will not see growth due to a lack of parties and large gatherings.

The Risk of Holidays and Low Spending Money During COVID-19

Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognizes the risk that upcoming holidays, such as Halloween and Thanksgiving, have on the spread of COVID-19. Social distancing, mask wearing and indoor gatherings are strongly discouraged, and this poses the question as to how people across the globe will choose to celebrate. If we examine past major holidays that were celebrated globally, such as Easter, we saw a rise in utilizing virtual and outdoor settings rather than indoor gatherings involving food. As these trends will continue over the next months, a decline in global food sales is likely as well.

The holiday season is also a time of a global rise in commercial shopping. According to a study done by Accenture, consumers reported that they plan to budget $540 for holiday spending this year, which is $100 less than the average budget of 2019. This comes as no surprise, as over 305 million workers globally have experienced unemployment since April. As a result of less spending on commercial products, specifically in the United States, manufacturers across the globe are subject to business losses rather than gains that are usually experienced during these coming months. When consumers are limiting spending this season on themselves and loved ones, we also must consider the limits in philanthropy and donations for those living in poverty during this time.

Aiding the World’s Poor During the Holidays

The holidays represent a time of giving for many. When looking over the past decade, charitable donations raise up to 42% during the months of November and December. However, as people across the globe are cutting their budgets on the spending for their families and friends, it is likely that some households will be unable to donate as much as last year.

The holiday season is a difficult time for the world’s homeless, due to feelings of loneliness, approaching harsh weather, and overpopulation in major cities. Philanthropic actions and donations toward those living in poverty during the holiday season often help them get through this challenging time. Unfortunately, it appears that there will be much less assistance for those in need due to people battling their own unemployment and difficult circumstances as a result of COVID-19.

However, charitable organizations that are frequently frontrunners in assisting the world’s poor have recognized the challenges of this season. The Salvation Army International has reported seeing a 155% increase in assistance requests this year, and as a result, the organization will begin collecting holiday donations prior to the beginning of November. Also, the U.K. government is implementing plans to help food insecure families feed their children with free school meals during the months of October through December. Financial insecurity is expected to be high during these times due to holiday expenses, and the U.K. government has recognized an avenue in which they can assist families in making sure their children are properly fed, while still being able to enjoy the holidays.

Overall, this holiday season will present challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and its socioeconomic effects. Globally, we have seen the world adapt to economic changes, and the work of charitable organizations will allow us to adapt and assist those in need during a holiday season that will look significantly different.

– Evan Coleman
Photo: Flickr

Compassion Canada, Fighting Global Poverty During the HolidaysThis year’s holiday season brings forth a new set of challenges as everyone is forced to accommodate their usual traditions and plans. For those in extreme poverty around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified their daily struggles. The Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report estimates that the pandemic could push between 88 million to 115 million people back into extreme poverty as advancements in eradicating global poverty reverse. Among the factors contributing to this drastic shift are the travel and trade restrictions, closure of valuable institutions and rise in unemployment. The International Labor Organization reported that poverty among African workers increased by 62% within the first month of the pandemic. These workers relied on industries, such as manufacturing and tourism, that have either closed or are restricted. The World Bank approximates that by next year, 31 million children living in impoverished households will leave school because of the economic impacts of COVID-19. The holiday season should be used as a time to continue fighting global poverty, especially during these trying times when millions of people are at risk. Here is how Compassion Canada is contributing to the fight against global poverty.

What is Compassion Canada?

Compassion Canada is a religion-based organization that was established in 1963 and now works in 25 countries worldwide to fight global poverty by improving child development. Its “holistic” approach to child development includes providing basic necessities, educational opportunities and personal care and guidance to children. As a result of Compassion Canada’s work, two million children now have access to the resources necessary to develop all aspects of their lives and break the cycle of poverty.

In addition, 27% to 40 % more children completed their education and 35% are more likely to be employed in high-skilled jobs. Throughout the pandemic, Compassion Canada has continued its commitment to its mission and now to also fighting global poverty during the holidays.

Fighting Global Poverty During the Holidays

Compassion Canada offers two options for anyone wanting to spread the holiday spirit to families in need. Here is a closer look at these options.

With Gifts of Compassion, individuals can choose from a wide range of gifts, or services, that they wish to give. These gifts include COVID-19 relief, support for income generation, educational resources and clean water. Gifts alleviating the impact of the pandemic include digital medical care, rent assistance and hygiene kits. To help with income generation, donors can choose gifts to support small businesses or give livestock and produce. For those looking to make an impact during the holidays, this is a unique way to give a family around the globe a gift and service they need to continue their path out of poverty. The Christmas Gift Fund accepts monetary donations to give children tangible gifts.

Regardless of the unprecedented situation of the world, Compassion Canada wants to continue spreading the holiday joy to children and give them a reminder that there are people around the world who care for them. Make an impact this holiday season by donating to non-profits and humanitarian organizations!

Giselle Ramirez-Garcia 
Photo: Flickr

Estee Lauder Aiding COVID-19 Relief EffortsWhen Estée Lauder founded her makeup company in 1953, she sought to revolutionize the cosmetic world. From essential bath oils to perfumes, Lauder transformed her dreams into a multimillion-dollar company. Recently, this retail empire stepped beyond the makeup counter and did its part to aid global COVID-19 relief programs. Lauder grounded her company in “the spirit of giving,” and the Estée Lauder Companies Charitable Foundation (ELCCF) sought to honor their founder’s values. ELCCF recognized “the strain” COVID-19 placed on impoverished communities, so its members developed a response plan. Estée Lauder’s COVID-19 Response kept these communities in mind by assisting developing countries, frontline workers and global healthcare employees.

Starting in March 2020, Estée Lauder’s COVID-19 Response includes supporting Doctors Without Borders, non-governmental organizations, BeautyUnited and manufacturing hand sanitizer to contribute to COVID-19 relief efforts.

Supporting Doctors Without Borders

To launch their global COVID-19 relief campaign, Estée Lauder donated $2 million to Doctors Without Borders. Doctors Without Borders—also referred to as Medecins Sans Frontieres—developed a specialized response to the virus by supporting “under-resourced and highly impacted countries.”

Estée Lauder’s donation will go a long way as Doctors Without Borders currently works in 70 countries worldwide. Doctors Without Borders provides quality care to vulnerable and at-risk community members: “elderly people in nursing homes, homeless people and migrants living in precarious circumstances.”

Doctors Without Borders also seeks to improve infection and prevention procedures in healthcare centers by funneling personal protective equipment (PPE) to frontline workers in developing countries. By funding Doctors Without Borders’ programs, Estée Lauder’s COVID-19 Response assisted workers and patients in Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Niger and Syria.

Funding NGOs Worldwide

Estée Lauder’s COVID-19 Response focused on assisting non-governmental organizations in China, specifically the Red Cross Society of China, Give2Asia and the Shanghai Charity Foundation. Estée Lauder sought to help the former epicenter of the virus recover and even provided additional donations to the China Women’s Development Foundation, supporting female front-line workers.

In the Middle East and Africa, Estée Lauder assisted Oxfam International’s work in South Africa, Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria. ELCCF even extended its relief efforts to Latin America by awarding grants to Mision Huascaran in Peru, Panama Solidario, Unibes in Brazil, Cruz Rojo in Mexico and the Waldorf Foundation in Colombia. Estée Lauder donated $3.2 million to these NGOs, providing “flexible funding in this time of need.”

Endorsing BeautyUnited

As part of its COVID-19 response campaign, Estée Lauder partnered with 40 other beauty brands and celebrities, like Victoria Beckham, Gwyneth Paltrow and Drew Barrymore as part of BeautyUnited.

BeautyUnited’s “industry-wide effort” also supports frontline health workers. This “special coalition” of beauty moguls and cosmetics corporations specializes in providing PPE to doctors, nurses and essential workers in the developing world. As part of BeautyUnited, Estée Lauder’s COVID-19 response moved beyond monetary donations to provide “life-saving” medical equipment.

Manufacturing Hand Sanitizer

After donating $15 million to relief efforts and joining BeautyUnited, Estée Lauder wanted to do more. Given the scarcity of hand sanitizer at home and abroad, Estée Lauder worked with Jo Malone London, another cosmetics brand, to manufacture hand sanitizer in their U.K. factories. As the pandemic escalated, hand sanitizer became a hot commodity; one Estée Lauder wanted to share with the rest of the world.

Estée Lauder’s COVID-19 Response went above and beyond the expectations of a traditional cosmetics company. The future remains uncertain, but ELCCF will continue to assist impoverished countries throughout this health crisis. Echoing their founder’s giving spirit, Estée Lauder is prepared to meet new and “emerging needs” and will continue to “prioritize medical and emergency” response efforts.

– Kyler Juarez
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Water poverty in NigeriaWater poverty in Nigeria is still a pressing issue today. Only 30% of northern Nigeria’s population can access safe drinking water and adequate sanitation facilities. The subsequent use of unclean water leads to the spreading of waterborne diseases such as cholera, guinea worm and hepatitis. The lack of water has impaired the livelihoods of farmers and led to a lower enrollment rate at schools, especially with girls. However, the situation is not without aid.

The History of Water Poverty in Nigeria

Since 1995, Nigerians have benefitted from WaterAid, a charity organization that has established a multitude of water and sanitation projects. The organization works through partnerships with local government authorities, civil society groups and state agencies to implement its programs. The projects have led to progress in development plans and data collection efforts that have increased clean water supply and access to safe toilets.

WaterAid has worked to improve water poverty in Nigeria by implementing its services in over 100 of Nigeria’s poorest communities, which include:

  • Abuja, Federal Capital Territory, where safe tap water is only acquired by 7% of the population.
  • Bauchi State where fewer than 50% of its people can access safe water and sanitation.

  • Benue State where most streams are contaminated.

  • Ekiti State where the main source of domestic water is pre-packaged water sachets and water vendors during the dry season.

  • Jigawa State where waterborne diseases are common.

  • Plateau State where most households rely on an unsafe water supply from government sources.

WaterAid, along with government support, has provided over three million Nigerians with clean water, hygiene and sanitation.

The Data4WASH Programme

The Abuja-based nonprofit Media for Community Change and US-based NGO BLI Global have a similar goal of eliminating water poverty in Nigeria. On August 27, 2020, they formed a partnership to launch The Data4WASH Programme. The program consists of an interactive online platform that accumulates data and maps GPS coordinates. It then creates a map that water-impoverished communities can utilize to advocate for themselves.

Through the map, empirical and widespread evidence can prove the need for adequate investment in the design and installation of clean water and sanitation facilities. Additionally, the program empowers civil society by involving them in the national initiative to improve water poverty in Nigeria. The map encourages people to identify and report water-deficient and poorly sanitized areas in their communities. For instance, final year students from The Department of Statistics at the University of Ibadan will participate in the data collection process.

COVID-19

The Data4WASH Programme has been especially valuable after COVID-19 disrupted Nigeria’s progress in alleviating water poverty. According to WaterAid, 60 million Nigerians lack access to a clean water supply and services, and 150 million people lack basic hand-washing facilities with soap and water.

By enhancing data collecting processes, Nigeria can fortify its most vulnerable communities and health care systems to withstand the present detriments of COVID-19. Further, it can institutionally protect against potential health threats in the future. These measures established by The Data4WASH Programme’s interactive map system would also satisfy The U.N.’s Global Goal 6 — “clean water and sanitation access for all, including safe and affordable drinking water.”

Locally crafted, community-driven initiatives like The Data4WASH Programme and intergovernmental organizations are vital to ending global poverty. One sets guidelines and the other provides outlets that encourage entrepreneurship. The two must work together to end water poverty in Nigeria and all around the world.

Joy Arkeh
Photo: Flickr

Fight Against Extreme Poverty
Extreme poverty is a complex global issue and figuring out how to best alleviate it is a complicated challenge. The effective altruism movement aims to help solve this challenge by using data-driven evidence to find the best ways to fight against extreme poverty.

What is Effective Altruism?

Effective altruism involves using data and evidence to determine the best methods to help improve the world with its limited resources. For example, one important aspect of effective altruism is determining which issues experience neglect. These are issues that receive relatively little attention and funding in comparison with the value of solving or mitigating these issues. Effective altruism also promotes the use of data and transparency when looking at the success of charitable initiatives. With proper data, it is easier to determine if an initiative is helping improve lives, as well as how cost-effective it is.

Many frequently consider extreme poverty a neglected issue in effective altruism, because just small amounts of additional money and resources could substantially improve or even save a life if used effectively. William MacAskill, the author of “Doing Good Better,” estimates that it would cost just $3,400 to save the life of someone living in an impoverished country.

Many people want to help improve the world and have the ability to save a life, as McAskill explains, but the data involved in effective altruism and struggle to determine the best charitable initiatives overwhelms them. Some effective altruism organizations recognize this and conduct research for their donors to help them have the largest individual impact on those living in extreme poverty.

One for the World (OFTW)

Founded in 2014, One for the World (OFTW) is a relatively new organization that creates a portfolio of the most effective charitable initiatives fighting extreme poverty across the world. These are charities that provide enough data and are transparent enough to determine their efficacy and change as the data changes. These are frequently charities that help people meet basic health needs because they are low cost and high reward. According to OFTW, just $2.50 in the hands of the right charitable program can provide someone with an antimalarial bednet. Correspondingly, OFTW’s “Top Picks” are primarily charitable initiatives that focus on health, including vitamin A and antimalarial drug distribution to children, antimalarial bed net distribution and deworming. The remaining top pick is GiveDirectly, which provides one-time cash transfers directly to those living in poverty.

In addition to this unique portfolio of charities, OFTW also asks for donations in a fairly uncommon way. The organization focuses primarily on college campuses and encourages students to pledge 1% of their post-graduation income to these most effective charities. It is a great way to raise awareness among young people about effective altruism and the fight against extreme poverty, and college students in wealthy countries typically have a high future earning potential.

Kennan McClung, Director of Growth and Development at OFTW, explained to The Borgen Project that “[t]he OFTW pledge is important for college students to make because it is so simple, so easy and so effective. Without changing your lifestyle at all, you can markedly improve the lives of hundreds of people every year, saving multiple lives over the course of your career.” OFTW gives individuals the opportunity to have a large individual impact on the fight against extreme poverty.

During the COVID-19 Pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the work that OFTW does is all the more important. McClung also touched on this, explaining that “[t]he looming economic recession is going to have disastrous effects in the developing world, with hundreds of millions of people expected to fall back into extreme poverty and years of progress expected to be erased. It’s more important than ever to not only support people living on so little but ensure that we are doing so in the most effective way possible.” It is also important to note that anyone, not just college students, can take the 1% pledge and start giving right away if in the position to do so.

McClung emphasizes that “OFTW members pursue a wide range of different careers, engage in other forms of philanthropy and volunteering, and have a diverse array of interests and values. That said, we are all united in the belief that we can live very reasonably on 99% of our incomes, and are committed to doing our part to make the world a better place — effectively.” Anyone can take the pledge and start improving lives today.

Givewell

Givewell, a partner of OFTW, is another research-driven organization to find the most effective charities working on a variety of causes, although particularly extreme poverty. It provides OFTW with a list of the most effective charities fighting global poverty. Individuals can also lookup various nonprofits on the website to see how effective they are according to Givewell’s measures.

Effective altruism uses data to determine which charitable initiatives are the most effective at combating neglected issues. Extreme poverty is among the most neglected, and therefore research to discover the best ways to fight it is extremely important. Giving to charities that provide data and have shown that their efforts are successful is ideal, but often it can be very time-consuming and overwhelming for an individual donor to complete alone. This is where charities like OFTW and Givewell step in, completing this important research and encouraging donors to give to the best charitable programs based on the available data. OFTW and Givewell have found that many of the best initiatives work to help provide for basic health needs, such as antimalarial bednet distribution and deworming.

Effective altruism can seem complicated and overwhelming at first, but it does not need to be. It simply aims to find the best ways to help improve lives using data. Fighting extreme poverty is a key issue in effective altruism because relatively small amounts of money can have a substantial impact if used effectively. Organizations like OFTW and Givewell do the heavy lifting for donors and determine which charitable initiatives are most cost-effective, could best use additional funds, are transparent and have a track record of success. This makes fighting extreme poverty in very effective ways possible for many people around the world.

– Kayleigh Crabb
Photo: Flickr

Operation Christmas ChildFor most of the world, Christmas comes once a year. A day full of red bows and snow glistening in the December sun. Not so for Samaritan’s Purse, a nonprofit headquartered in North Carolina. For them, Christmas is not merely a holiday, but a lifestyle. Operation Christmas Child began as a mom and pop project in the United Kingdom. It quickly grew into a worldwide phenomenon under the umbrella of Samaritan’s Purse. Over 150 countries annually take part in the program. Every year volunteers fill shoeboxes with toys, basic care items and a message of hope for the eager hands of boys and girls living in underdeveloped countries.

Volunteers from around the world spend the months leading up to Christmas filling boxes to the brim. Schools, churches, community organizations and individuals all work to bring a glimmer of light to poverty-stricken countries. Last year, Samaritan’s Purse was able to collect 10.5 million shoeboxes to give to the world’s poor.

Operation Christmas Child in Madagascar

One country in particular that reaps from Operation Christmas Child’s generosity is Madagascar. Madagascar is an African island nearly 800 miles from the shoreline of Mozambique. It is home to exotic species, the deciduous baobab trees and unfortunately, overwhelming statistical poverty. According to The World Bank, 70.7% of the population lived below the poverty line in 2012. Three factors that play a role in the rise of poverty in Madagascar are political crises, climate shocks and a sharp increase in global food prices.

With all the compounding factors that exacerbate poverty, Madagascar is a perfect destination for Operation Christmas Child to focus its energy.

Students in Madagascar

It was the summer of 2017. Mary Patton Murphy, a rising high school junior, packed her bags for her first trip across the world. Murphy is one of around thirty students that was able to be a part of the competitive week-long student vision trip with Samaritan’s Purse in 2017.

For years, Murphy had packed shoeboxes in the months leading to Christmas and dropped them off during National Collection Week. One year, a child that received one of her boxes sent Murphy a letter thanking her. This personal experience made her fall deeply in love with the organization. Murphy’s trip to Madagascar allowed her to see the ins and outs of the organization.

“It is such a well-run process,” says Murphy, “[the organization] truly maximize[s] their resources.” Murphy witnessed this first-hand during her time spent in Madagascar. Volunteers visited two distribution centers a day where each shoebox is diligently cared for and searched to ensure the safety of the delivery.

Murphy illustrated the process, noting that it “is a long one.” She expounded adding that “the shoeboxes travel to a local collection center. Then they are consolidated into carton boxes and sent to a processing center to make sure there isn’t anything harmful in any of the shoeboxes like toothpaste because the kids will try to eat it. They might add to a box if it is low on supplies or toys. Then the shoeboxes are shipped across the world. Some of these kids have never received a present before.”

Wrapping Up

Volunteers of all ages are the driving forcing behind this operation from beginning to end. They all advocate to make a difference in the lives of impoverished children across the globe. For individuals who would like to advocate on behalf of these children, they should visit this website.

The leaves fade from various shades of red and yellow and the morning air turns crisp and cool. The collection of shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child will soon be underway. Make an early start to the season of giving with a mere shoebox, a few toys and a heart for the world’s poor.

Chatham Kennedy
Photo: Flickr