John OliverJohn Oliver, comedian and the host of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, is renowned for putting a comedic spin on recent news stories. Indeed, he has mocked everything from horses to cereal mascots to his own self-professed bird-like appearance. However, fans of Last Week Tonight know that he has a soft spot for the less fortunate and endeavors to help them. What they may not know, however, is that John Oliver also supports the Touch Foundation.

John Oliver’s Philanthropy

Fans of John Oliver will know that his penchant for philanthropy is nothing new. On his show, he has been known to do outrageous, often hilarious, things to help those in need. Sometimes, this comes in the form of a plea made from the set of Last Week Tonight. For example, during the 2017 French election, John ended an episode by switching to a film noir style and urging the people of France not to vote for the far right extremist candidate Marine Le Pen. Another time, he hired singer Weird Al Yankovic to sing an accordion-filled song begging North Korea not to nuke the U.S.

Sometimes, however, John Oliver’s contributions to helping people are much more tangible. For instance, his team created a children’s book called A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo. This book, which stars Vice President Mike Pence’s rabbit, supports the Trevor Project and AIDS United by allowing people to donate to one or both of those charities to receive a free ebook. The profits from sales of physical copies of the books also go towards those charities.

Another time, he bought several items from Russell Crowe’s The Art of the Divorce auction, including the jock strap from Cinderella Man, and donated them to one of the last remaining Blockbusters in the U.S. to help it keep its doors open. However, the fact that John Oliver supports the Touch Foundation financially was never mentioned in the show.

About the Touch Foundation

The Touch Foundation is an organization that seeks to improve healthcare in Tanzania. Healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa is lacking, as is evident by the fact that the life expectancy of the average adult is 20 years less than that of the average American. In fact, one in five children won’t even live to see his or her fifth birthday. Tanzania, in particular, suffers from an abysmal number of healthcare workers, a high rate of childbirth complications, limited access to basic healthcare services and many deaths from treatable and/or preventable diseases.

The Touch Foundation fights the poor healthcare in Tanzania by looking for flaws in the country’s healthcare system, bringing them to the attention of the Tanzanian government and obtaining funding for long-term programs that teach sustainable techniques for good health care. They do all of this by using institutions that already exist in Tanzania.

The Touch Foundation’s focus is spread across the healthcare system. One of their main goals is training new healthcare workers and helping existing ones improve. That way, access to healthcare will become much more widespread. They also target specific healthcare priorities that impact Tanzania the most, including maternal and newborn health, non-communicable diseases and cardiovascular health. On top of that, they send detailed reports of their results to their local and international partners.

The Touch Foundation’s Impact

The Touch Foundation has spent more than $60 million improving Tanzania’s healthcare system. This has resulted in better lives for 17 million Tanzanians (one-third of the people who live there). The Touch Foundation has trained more than 4,000 healthcare workers. For the ones who are still in training, 900 of them are housed in new and refurbished dormitories. Also thanks to Touch, the enrollment rate at the Weill Bugando Medical College has increased from 10 to 900 since 2004, and 96 percent of graduates remain within the healthcare system.

The Touch Foundation has helped reduce maternal deaths by 27 percent. The number of surgical centers at the Bugando Medical Centre has increased from 7 to 13, allowing for 30 percent more surgeries. The Touch Foundation has also worked to install electricity generators, water pumps, high-speed Internet, waste incinerators and laundry facilities at medical centers across Tanzania.

John Oliver is very outspoken about what he believes in. He will do ridiculous things for those who he feels needs his help. However, the fact that John Oliver supports the Touch Foundation is relatively obscure. Despite this, his contributions go to making Tanzania a better, healthier place to live. He doesn’t need to do something insane to show that he cares about Tanzania; his quiet contribution to the cause is enough.

Cassie Parvaz

Photo: Flickr

Top Five Most Generous Countries in the World
Each year, the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) publishes the World Giving Index, highlighting the most generous countries in the world pertaining to how they respond to polls and research conducted by Gallup.

According to the 2018 Index, the most important questions were: In the past month, have you helped a stranger or someone you didn’t know who needed help? Donated money to a charity? Volunteered your time to an organization?

Top Five Most Generous Countries in the World

CAF tallies the scores and produces rankings for each. In the article below, CAF’s top five most generous countries in 2018 are presented.

5. Ireland

The Irish received high marks in helping a stranger and donating money, as 64 percent of pollsters saying yes to doing both in the last month, but only 40 percent affirmed that they had volunteered their time, bringing them down to fifth.

This ranking marks a three-spot improvement from 2017’s World Giving Index when the country came in at number eight.

Another interesting aspect of charity and giving in Ireland is the Charities Regulator organization. Under Ireland’s Charities Act 2009, the organization is an independent authority, appointed by the Minister of Justice whose key functions are to “establish and maintain a register of charitable organizations operating in Ireland and ensure their compliance with the Charities Acts.”

The Charities Regulator regulates the charity sector to ensure no malpractice or gross negligence on part of the charities and nonprofits operating in the country.

4. United States of America

The U.S. comes in at number four this year, a one spot improvement from last year’s index. Similar to Ireland, the U.S. received high marks in the helping a stranger and donating money categories, at 72 percent and 61 percent respectively. However, only a mere 39 percent of people said they volunteered their time.

Though the U.S. comes in at number four this year, they are number two on CAF’s five-year average list.

It’s important to note that only around 1 percent of the U.S. budget goes to foreign assistance, so even though the citizens of the country should be proud of themselves, there is still a lot of work to do to alleviate poverty around the world.

3. New Zealand

Coming in at number three on the list of the most generous countries in the world is an island country in the southwest Pacific, New Zealand. This is a one-spot bump for New Zealand from landing at fourth in 2017.

Over 65 percent of New Zealanders say they helped a stranger in the past month, while 68 percent donated money. Only 40 percent of New Zealand’s population mentions volunteering their time. New Zealand comes in at number three in CAF’s five-year average index as well.

2. Australia

The runner-up on the list of most generous countries in the world is New Zealand’s neighbor, Australia. Almost 65 percent of people from the country helped out a stranger, 71 percent donated money and 40 percent of them donated their time.

The number two spot represents a four-spot jump for the country from 2017. Like the other nations on the list, Australia is ranked in the top ten for the five-year average index as well, landing in the number four spot behind their neighbor, New Zealand.

Like Ireland, Australia has an organization devoted to monitoring and aiding charities and nonprofits called the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC).

Unlike Ireland’s Charities Regulator, however, the ACNC is endorsed and operates under the Australian government.

The ACNC helps the 56,650 registered Australian charities understand and meet their obligations to the public through information, advice and guidance. They also help the public understand the work of the nonprofit sector and offer a free searchable database of all Australian charities.

1. Indonesia

While only 46 percent of Indonesian residents say they helped a stranger in the last month, a whopping 78 percent say they donated money and 53 percent say they volunteered their time, making Indonesia the only country in CAF’s top 20 to break the 50 percent mark in this category.

The number one spot represents a one-spot raise from last year’s rankings where the country was number two, behind only Myanmar. Indonesia ranks seventh in the index’s five-year average.

It could be expected to see countries like the United States and Australia toward the top of the list. These countries are quite wealthy, but perhaps the most astonishing thing about Indonesia coming in number one is that the country is quite poor. Despite having a steady economy and labor force, 40 percent of the country lives below the poverty line, making their number one ranking even more impressive and inspiring.

These five nations listed in the article as the most generous countries provide a good example for other countries to increase their work in helping the people in need and eradicating world poverty.

– Nick Hodges

Photo: Flickr

Similarities and Differences Between a Charity, Non-profit Organization and Philanthropy
To get a better understanding of the different ways in which one can contribute to the community, it’s important to know the similarities and differences between charities, nonprofit organizations and philanthropy.

A large part of progress in the world is due to humanitarian aid and contribution, whether it be people donating money or food to the less fortunate or people coming together to work for and promote human welfare. Charities, nonprofit organizations and philanthropy are important to communities because each is effective in bringing positive change and offers valuable opportunities and programs to people.

Giving USA reports that charitable donations surged to an estimated $410.02 billion in 2017, a major increase of 5.2 percent from $389.64 in 2016. This is the first time that Giving exceeded $400 billion in one year.

While charities, nonprofit organizations and philanthropy can be used interchangeably and are similar in that each brings positive change, they differ significantly in the way they operate.

Charities

A charity is an immediate but emotional monetary donation or short-term contribution usually intended for crisis and relief efforts and supported completely by the public.

People usually donate to a charity that they have a personal connection to or are emotionally affected by. For instance, if a person is deeply concerned about animals, he or she may give a monetary donation at a local animal shelter.

According to Score, one of the ways to understand the differences between charities, nonprofit organizations and philanthropy is to remember that a nonprofit’s purpose is educational or religious and if its funds promote a cause that affects the general public and uses public solicitation to operate, it is most likely a charity.

Examples of donations to a charity include giving money or food to a homeless shelter, donating to an animal shelter, giving money to The Salvation Army bell-ringers outside one’s local supermarket during the holiday season, etc.

Nonprofit Organizations

A nonprofit organization and a charity are similar in that they both operate on a not-for-profit basis but differ based on whether it is tax-deductible and even in the way it operates. A charitable donation can count as tax-deductible while nonprofit organizations have to meet certain requirements and file with the IRS as a charitable organization.

A popular nationwide nonprofit organization is the American Red Cross. The American Red Cross website states that a donor’s donation goes toward strengthening the Red Cross response to nearly 64,000 disasters a year, providing a safe place, food and other necessities to affected individuals and their families. In 2016, the Red Cross provided 385,000 emergency assistance services, gave millions CPR and AED training and supplied 7 million blood products to patients in need.

Philanthropy

One way to remember the differences between charities, nonprofit organizations and philanthropy is by understanding that charities and nonprofits give/contribute while philanthropy involves action. For instance, while a charity can be a quick one-time donation to a school, philanthropy would work toward providing academic scholarships to students or funding to build a better school. Charities aim to lessen the suffering caused by social problems while philanthropists work toward ending social problems.

According to Medium, philanthropy is a long-term strategic investment and intervention dedicated to building long-lasting and successful change in individuals and communities.

While many think a philanthropist is someone who donates large amounts of money to an organization, a philanthropist can be somebody devoted to ending a certain social problem and promoting human welfare.

Impact and Importance

Although there are several differences between charities, nonprofit organizations and philanthropy, the important part is that all of these are effective in building a more efficient and progressive world. It doesn’t matter if someone donates to charities or nonprofit organizations or decides to become a philanthropist, what matters is their contribution serves to help those in need and is also another step toward progress.

– Kristen Uedoi
Photo: Flickr

 

The Pele Foundation and the Empowerment of the Disenfranchised Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known widely by the moniker Pelé, is arguably the most popular Brazilian football player and had led his team to trebled triumph in the World Cup. But Pelé doesn’t have a one-track mind: he has one leg in the sports pool and the other leg in the social activism pool.

Previously, Pelé worked with FIFA as an ambassador against racism as well as with UNICEF to advocate children’s rights. He has moved on to inaugurating his own organization called The Pelé Foundation to empower impoverished, disenfranchised children around the world.

The Pelé Foundation

When first announcing the launch of his foundation Pelé said, “In 2018, I am launching The Pelé Foundation, a new charitable endeavor that will benefit organizations around the world and their dedicated efforts to empower children, specifically around poverty and education.”

Having grown up poor, Pelé developed an affinity for charity work. In the past, he had supported a multitude of different organizations including 46664, ABC Trust, FC Harlem, Great Ormond Street Hospital, Prince’s Rainforests Project and The Littlest Lamb.

In the future, Pelé’s organization plans to expand and cover issues such as gender equality and will eventually birth offshoot programs, not unlike other organizations of its nature.

Partner Organizations

Pelé isn’t alone in this endeavor. During the initial announcement, Pelé blazoned that he would be partnering with both charity:water and Pencils of Promise to fulfill his goals.

Founded in October 2008, Pencils of Promise (PoP) is a nonprofit dedicated to improving the state of education for children in Nicaragua, Guatemala, Ghana and Laos. Besides improving the quality of education, PoP also constructs schools and educational facilities, trains faculty, champions scholarships and supports sanitary programs. Backed by big names such as Justin Bieber and Scooter Braun, PoP is a big name itself in the humanitarian space.

Established in 2006 and having funded 24,537 different projects, charity:water is spearheaded by Scott Harrison. charity: water gives all donations to projects working to end the current water crises. Harrison said, “We’re excited to partner with The Pelé Foundation to bring clean water to thousands of people in the years to come. Having access to clean water not only saves hours of wasted time, but it also provides safety, health and hygiene. It directly impacts the future of children, and we believe it’s the first step out of poverty for rural communities all over the world.”

– Jordan De La Fuente
Photo: Flickr

 

ACE Africa hasACE Africa was established in Kenya in 2003 with only four staff members: a U.K. expatriate and three Kenyans. They had a tall order, as the city of Bungoma, Kenya was near the point of collapse in 2003. Nearly one in three households in the community were infected with HIV/AIDS and all government and community structures were falling apart. ACE Africa began their work and 14 years later, Bungoma is a drastically different place.

Focus and Work

ACE Africa focuses on three core areas to improve a community over the long term: child development, community health and wellbeing and community livelihoods. Using specific programs to mold projects to communities in Kenya and East Africa, ACE Africa has grown from four to 58 staff indigenous to Africa and 12,500 community volunteers. ACE Africa is a registered NGO in Kenya, the United Kingdom, the United States and Tanzania, employing small staffs in each country. The organization has also partnered with investment banks, world-leading universities, Dame Judi Dench and other NGOs and international organizations.

In 2010 the Star Foundation, an independent charity founded in London by a wealthy Saudi Arabian family-owned business conglomerate, awarded ACE Africa with an Impact Award. The award was given for the organization’s work in rural Kenya to reduce the spread and increase the treatment of HIV/AIDS. ACE Africa began by opening testing centers and educating the community at all levels about the spread of HIV/AIDS and the necessary treatment. They also educated the population about the importance of a healthy diet, which can improve health increase the productivity of a village. As of 2010, ACE Africa had helped to improve the lives of more than 300,000 children in Kenya.

Beyond Kenya

ACE Africa has begun to branch out of Kenya into the north of Tanzania. In 2014 the organization began working with the Innocent Foundation in Tanzania. According to the Innocent Foundation, the project will last 10 to 12 years. When the project began in 2014, over 93 percent of the wage-earners in the villages where ACE Africa and Innocent are working earn less than $1 a day. Nearly 44 percent of the children in the schools are orphans, and it is estimated that only 4 percent of the villagers eat a balanced diet.

ACE Africa and the Innocent foundation will work with six community organizations within these villages to improve the quality of life. Training the locals ensures that skills will stay and flourish within the community. ACE Africa is working closely with the Tanzania government and more than 7,000 local volunteers to see that this plan succeeds.

ACE Africa’s Impacts

ACE Africa has improved the lives of more than 1 million children through their programs. The organization has helped to establish more than 500 community garden clubs, resolved more than 12,000 cases of child neglect and abuse and engaged nearly 100,000 children in school guidance programs. ACE Africa has screened roughly 100,000 people for HIV/AIDs and has helped around 80,000 people seek treatment and counseling. As part of their community livelihood programs, ACE Africa has trained more than 35,000 people on the proper techniques for sustainable farming. This has allowed approximately 87,000 kitchen gardens to be established. ACE Africa also works with partners and third-parties to research better techniques to help people and make their projects more efficient.

In 2017 ACE Africa-founder Jonna Waddington was invited to the Sustainable Development Goals for Africa conference, where the United Nations development plan for Africa through 2030 will be discussed. With six awards and international cooperation and recognition from the United Nations, it appears that ACE Africa will continue to make a positive impact on the world.

– Nicholas Anthony DeMarco
Photo: Flickr

Providing Clean Water: 3 Beauty Brands that HelpShampooing hair, showering, washing hands after the bathroom- these are all examples of things that are easily taken for granted in the developed world. But 844 million people lack access to safe water around the world and 2.3 billion lack access to proper sanitation. BROO, Aveda and Ollie and Otto are three hair care companies that have partnered with different charity organizations in a goal of providing clean water for the millions of people that are currently living without it.

BROO & Water.org

With every Broo product purchased, one person is provided with the access to safe drinking water and proper sanitation. Water.org believes the biggest barrier to clean water is affordable financing and knows that charity alone is not a long-term solution for having clean water. By partnering with WaterCredit, Water.org is providing loans to families for only $322. The goal of these loans is to provide families with water connections and toilets. Having water in homes costs only a fraction of what it does to buy clean water from vendors, which could cost as much as 20 percent of a family’s income.

Once the loans are paid back, the funds turn into another loan for a family in need, continuing the cycle of providing clean water and getting families out of poverty. Ninety-nine percent of these loans are paid back in full. Since WaterCredit started, 2.6 million in loans have been disbursed.

Without clean water in the home, women and children in some places spend six hours a day walking to gather clean water. Clean water supply changes people’s lives by giving them more time to get an education and better health. Providing clean water to communities in need ends the cycle of poverty by giving them access to things that previously were not available.

Aveda & Global Greengrants Foundation

Aveda celebrates Earth Month every April by raising funds and increasing awareness for the environment and people lacking clean water. By selling Light the Way Candles, Aveda has raised over $50 million for clean water projects since 2007.

All of the proceeds go to Aveda’s partner Global Greengrants Foundation and support grants that are providing clean water to those in need. Global Greengrants and Aveda have provided 920,000 people with clean water through projects in 85 different countries. Projects include things like “helping communities advocate for safe and affordable drinking water, protecting watersheds such as lakes, wetlands and rivers, helping communities address climate change which contributes to water shortages and scarcity around the globe.”

In April 2018, Head Technology Trainer Godliver Businge of the Uganda Women’s Water Initiative in Gomba, Uganda, taught women in the community how to build Biosand filters that kill 99 percent of bacteria in contaminated water.

With funds from Global Greengrants and Aveda, Gomba is now a prosperous community that can afford to buy textbooks and other school supplies for the children. Buswinge continues to teach women how to build Biosand filters, which in turn reduces the poverty rate and increases health.

Uganda Women’s Water Initiative is also teaching women about bio-intensive farming and how to make soap. Three hundred women are now trained in how to make Biosand filters and rainwater harvesting tanks.

Ollie and Otto & Generosity.org

Ollie & Otto partnered with Generosity.org to provide clean water for one person in yearly period for every product purchased. So far, the partnership is supporting clean water projects in Haiti, India and Africa.

Since Generosity.org started, they have helped 20 countries gain access to clean water and proper sanitation. According to this organization, teaching people to wash their hands and properly use latrines saves more lives than any vaccine.

Funded by partners like Ollie & Otto and other companies, Generosity.org has funded 813 projects and 470,000 people.

Clean water and proper sanitation give people access to a better life. Without the need for a time-consuming gathering of water or health care costs of water born disease, communities now have the time and money to provide an education for their children and to earn more income by working.

Companies like Broo, Aveda and Ollie & Otto are paving the way towards providing clean water and proper hygiene and sanitation for communities that deserve to be lifted out of poverty.

– Hope Kelly

Photo: Flickr

Treat People With Kindness
Former One Direction band member Harry Styles, currently a solo singer, songwriter and actor, recently finished a nearly year-long tour for his debut album, “Harry Styles.” He toured across the globe, making nearly 90 stops including Paris, Bangkok, Buenos Aires and Mexico City. The tour took close to ten months to finish. At each of his concerts, Styles had a merchandise stand with products that bore his slogan “Treat People With Kindness.” All of the merchandise profits, as well as a portion of the ticket sales, went to various local charities from cities at his tour stops. His tour raised $1.2 million for 62 global charities. By supporting these global charities, Harry Styles sends a reminder to treat people with kindness. Here are several of the 62 global charities that Styles supported on his world tour:

The Munich Refugee Council: Munich, Germany

Styles’ concert in Munich supported the Munich Refugee Council, an organization that has been working for the rights of refugees in Munich and other cities. Their work includes sensitizing the public and politicians to the living situation of refugees and working with others for a more welcoming society. The council also operates a project called Infobus for Refugees, which provides native-language counseling on asylum procedures and prepares refugees for hearings before first admissions.

Help Refugees: London, England

Help Refugees is known as “one of the unsung heroes of the European refugee crisis.” By working with small but effective groups and organizations, Help Refugees responds where the need is greatest by providing food, clothing, shelter or funding. Some of the most needed items that the organization provides include socks, underwear, razors, blankets, kids shoes, rain ponchos and pants.  

The Melbourne City Mission: Melbourne, Australia

Styles also toured in multiple cities in Australia. One of the Australian charities he supported was the Melbourne City Mission, which offers many services to support those in need in Melbourne and Victoria. The mission is Victoria’s largest source of homelessness services for those under the age of 24.

The Hub: Hong Kong, China

The mission of Hong Kong’s The Hub is to “give children in our society who are experiencing difficult circumstances an equal opportunity to become valuable members of the community.” The Hub is a support center that provides educational support, extracurriculars, counseling and health services to those who are most in need. 

The Chile Fund Against Hunger and Poverty: Santiago, Chile

While touring in South America, Styles donated to a number of poverty charities, including The Chile Fund Against Hunger and Poverty in Santiago, Chile. This fund was established by the Government of Chile and the United Nations Development Program to combat hunger and poverty. 

Forgotten Harvest in Detroit, Michigan

Styles toured in nearly 20 cities in North America. While in Detroit, Styles supported Forgotten Harvest, an organization dedicated to relieving hunger in metro-Detroit while preventing food waste. In 2017, approximately 589,000 people faced food insecurity in metro-Detroit. Rather than have food wasted, Forgotten Harvest receives food donations from 800 businesses and 250 emergency food providers. In 2016, this added up to 45.8 million pounds of food donated to those in need instead of ending up in a landfill.

Harry Styles’ merchandise mantra “Treat People With Kindness” has many meanings behind it. Making an extra effort each day to treat others with kindness can make a world of difference, especially for marginalized and impoverished people who rarely experience it. 

After his final tour stop in Los Angeles last month, Harry Styles posted a photo on his Instagram with the caption, “Thank you for coming out to see us, it has been a pleasure playing for you all…Treat people with kindness. Goodbye for now. I love you all. H.”

– Ariane Komyati
Photo: Google

mobile library in Kabul
Using only a large bus, a young Oxford graduate has launched a mobile library in Kabul, Afghanistan, to bring the joys of reading and learning to children and adults alike. In a country where not everyone has the opportunity to go to school, this library is making a world of difference.

History of Instability Has Affected Children’s Education in Afghanistan

Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan, has a history of violence. The nation has been marked by unstable governments and other violent groups, many of which plan attacks in the city of Kabul. Parents tend to keep their children behind closed doors to keep them safe.

Afghanistan also has a very low literacy rate, with only 36 percent of the population being able to read, and among women, this figure drops to 17 percent. Between three and five million children in Afghanistan are estimated to miss school this year, 85 percent of whom are young girls.

Freshta Karim, a public policy master’s graduate from Oxford University, saw this as an opportunity to help children in Kabul begin to learn and have fun. Karim grew up as a refugee in Pakistan, then returned to Afghanistan in 2002 after the fall of the Taliban. She says that she missed out on some childhood experiences due to the violence in the region and the inability of many to attend school. She recognized the importance of providing a space where children could be children and learn and grow as individuals.

With the help of a group of young educated volunteers, Karim launched the mobile library in Kabul in February 2018. The library is named Charmaghz, the Dari word for walnut, which in Afghan culture is associated with logic.

Mobile Library in Kabul Receives an Overwhelming Response

The library offers free access to more than 600 books in Dari, Pashto and English. In addition to books on many topics, there is access to board games, poetry, and music that allows children to learn about Afghan culture. Charmaghz stops at parks, schools and orphanages around Kabul for a few hours at a time, making two to three stops per day to provide access to as many children as possible.

In the first three weeks of operation, the library had more than 1,000 visitors. The library now draws approximately 300 people per day and has many regulars. Children come to learn, read and play with their friends, adults bring snacks and tea and volunteers come to lead sessions with children to discuss stories.

“It is beyond our beliefs and expectations how people love our program. We are humbled by their response. They appreciate and support it,” Karim said of the individuals who visit the library. Charmaghz was started to help a younger generation learn to read and broaden their horizons, and it seems the public is responding well to the new addition.

The team operating Charmaghz would like to ultimately expand. Currently, the mobile library in Kabul is financed by donations from Afghan professionals, and small donations from anyone who can afford to give anything. With this support, Karim believes expansion to other areas of Afghanistan, and providing more services, such as documentary screening, would be possible.

What started as a small effort to bring reading and learning opportunities to children in Kabul has become a staple of the community, encouraging children to grow and continue learning despite difficult circumstances.

– Katherine Kirker
Photo: Flickr

Rescuing Migrants Crossing the Mediterranean Sea
For thousands of years, the Mediterranean Sea has been a giver of life to those who settle near its shores. Today, the body of water is seen as a gateway to a better life for many migrants fleeing violence and poverty. But their journey does not end at the first sight of Mediterranean. It is estimated by The Mediterranean Situation, an organization which monitors migrant activity in the Mediterranean, that over 16,000 migrants have died or gone missing crossing the Mediterranean Sea between 2018 and 2014.

Migrants Crossing the Mediterranean Sea

Small overcrowded boats are often used by thugs and smugglers who charge over a thousand dollars per person for abusive transportation from Africa to Europe. These boats, piloted by unskilled captains, are not built for open water travel or to withstand the ever-changing weather of the Mediterranean Sea. This is why countries most affected by the smuggling activities are prioritizing the rescue of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea.

Rescuing migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea is no easy task — especially if your nation is split by a power vacuum caused by a civil war. Libya is a popular starting point for many migrants who plan to cross over the sea to Italy. Aside from being geographically close to Italy, the Libyan government and its navy are underfunded and trained. This status makes it difficult to thoroughly patrol the north African nation’s coastline.

Italy has taken the brunt of migrants crossing the Mediterranean with nearly 120,000 migrants arriving to its borders in 2017, and almost 190,000 in 2016. The migrant crisis was one of the most important issues during the recent Italian election, which helped to bring a coalition government of two eurosceptic parties to power.

Governments and Charities

Rescuing migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea is still important to Italy; in fact, $52 million has been pledged to increase Libya’s capacity to combat human smuggling through 2020.

State governments are not the only actors attempting to rescue migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea. Charities, such as the Spanish Proactiva Open Arms, patrol the Mediterranean Sea searching for migrants in need of rescue. Indeed, Proactiva Open Arms’ mission in the  Mediterranean has saved over 26,000 lives. Due to the organization’s claims that migrants undergo human-rights abuses when returned to Libya, Proactiva Open Arms often brings rescued migrants to shore in Europe.

According to international maritime law, all vessels, private or otherwise, must rescue those in need. The vessel’s origin does not mean that the rescued people are now the responsibility of its national origin; but where the rescued people are put ashore does. This has put Proactiva Open Arms in conflict with the Italian government.

Rescue Efforts and Proactiva Open Arms

When Proactiva Open Arms volunteers and their boat brought migrants to Italy in April 2017, the volunteers were arrested and their boat impounded. The Italian government sought to press charges against the volunteers for bringing the migrants to Italy and not back to Libya, but a Sicilian judge disagreed. The judge agreed with the Proactiva Open Arms volunteers who claimed that Lyiba does not have the proper resources to help the migrants and that they would face abuse as a consequence.

Rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean is a messy business. Countries such as Italy do not want to see people die at sea at the hands of neglectful smugglers, but they also have trouble dealing with the influx of migrants at home. Charities want to help people who are taken advantage of and help them to a better life; but oftentimes these organizations are not always supported. This difficult task does not seem to let up any time soon, and could possibly get worse.

A combined effort is needed to protect people. More should be done to lessen the need for people to flee from their homes, and governments need to step up to protect the human rights of those in need — especially to save helpless children at sea.

– Nick DeMarco
Photo: Flickr

LesserWhen thinking about the growing issue of poverty, classic humanitarian organizations come to mind like the Red Cross, UNICEF and Oxfam. However, there are many other deserving and impassioned groups who do not receive the same media time as these large organizations, but who should be noticed for their work and compassion. Here are five lesser-known humanitarian organizations working to reduce global poverty.

Hunger Plus, Inc.

Hunger Plus focuses its efforts on reducing global hunger and deaths caused by it. It is Hunger Plus’ goal to find a way to reduce global poverty by promoting access to a simple, yet very necessary thing: food. The organization also spends time and effort bringing medication to those in need to provide care against preventable and communicable diseases. Hunger Plus focuses its outreach both domestically and internationally and recently aided victims from Hurricane Harvey.

Save the Children

Save the Children is an aptly named organization as it focuses on just that – saving the children and bringing a future to every child born. The group works in 120 countries, providing access to education, food and safety from violence. The majority of donations within the organization go directly to children in need and Save the Children is quick to mobilize their funds. The organization works in times of crisis and in everyday life as a first responder to protecting children in harm’s way. During a crisis, Save the Children ensures children and their families are protected and have the resources necessary to survive the emergency.

Action Against Hunger

While Action Against Hunger works internationally, it is still one of the lesser-known humanitarian organizations. It works to reduce hunger by providing hands-on assistance and by shifting the focus from groups to individuals. Action Against Hunger believes that world hunger can be reduced by focusing efforts on mothers in developing countries. One of its goals is to educate women to accurately diagnose hunger needs and assist in reducing malnutrition. Action Against Hunger has won numerous awards and has been the leading force against hunger for approximately forty years.

Relief International

Relief International is an international organization that works in 19 countries to prevent human suffering. It is one of the lesser known humanitarian organizations and focuses on implementing the RI Way, a method used by the organization to encourage communities to discuss solutions for current situations. The group then assists in implementing the solutions. Its method is to deliver immediate access to basic resources like money, food, water and medication. Relief International also remains until a long-term solution has been established as a success. The aim is community-based, so individuals within the community are thinking of the best solutions for their group instead of accepting existing solutions that may not work.

Doctors Without Borders

Doctors Without Borders is a volunteer-based humanitarian organization that focuses on delivering medical care where necessary around the world. While it is a large organization, Doctors Without Borders is one of the lesser-known humanitarian organizations because it rarely uses the media as a means of promoting itself. The organization does not receive funding from the U.S. government in an effort to remain impartial and independent in times of crisis. Doctors Without Borders treats many medical issues from stitching up a cut to providing emergency services to treat HIV/AIDS, malaria, meningitis and more. The group also teaches medical education to ensure safety standards are maintained when it leaves.

There are many lesser-known humanitarian organizations outside the media’s influence that are worthy of donations and assistance. More widespread focus on certain issues and attacking the same problem from different angles may just be the way to reduce global poverty.

– Kayleigh Mattoon
Photo: Flickr