Secondhand Clothing
Prior to 1980, the domestic clothing and textile industry within the East African Community (EAC) was booming and employed thousands of people. Certain liberalization policies caused the industry to fail, creating a reliance on imported products. Used clothing imports reached $151 billion in East Africa during 2015. Secondhand clothing offers a cheap and quality source of garments for the people within the EAC.

Imports of used clothing are estimated at around 540 million pieces per year versus the 20 million pieces of clothing created domestically each year in East Africa.  Primarily, the United States and Europe, places where people discard large sums of used clothing, sent these imports. These areas donate 70 percent of donated garments to Africa. The EAC initiated the start of a secondhand clothing import ban in 2016 with the goal of accomplishing a complete ban by 2019. The hope is to create a self-sustaining and reliable textile industry that provides jobs for many people.

Taxation in the EAC

The plan was to expand local textile industries prior to the ban, however certain countries within the EAC, such as Rwanda, have already begun raising taxes on imported secondhand clothing. Taxes went from $0.2 to $2.5 from 2016 to 2017, at a 12 percent increase. People who oppose the ban fear that this will disproportionately affect people with lower incomes, rather than support positive industrialization. The opposition also fears that seeing the ban to completion will violate portions of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) where many African countries agreed to lift barriers restricting trade and investment with the United States.

However, the East African Community seems concerned with positive domestic growth and industrialization with the hopes of sustaining its economy. Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda plan to continue to raise taxes on clothing imports, while Kenya has said it cannot economically support the 2019 ban deadline because it is unable to meet domestic demands with local markets.

Creating a Textile Industry

Supporters of the ban have recognized that wearers of secondhand clothing might have a risk of obtaining skin candidiasis, scabies, ringworm, body lice and other health risks. To avoid added health risks and to maximize use of domestic commodities, the East African Business Council (EABC) has expressed the need to use the large production of cotton in the EAC domestically to create textiles, rather than exporting it for low costs. The countries within East Africa continue to work towards an improved domestic clothing and textile industry by creating facilities and advancing technology available towards textile production. Tanzania’s Minister of State, Jenista Mhagama, announced a training program in 2016 that would encourage and assist young people to become tailors.

Despite push back from European countries and the United States, the EAC continues its push towards growing its domestic textile industry and implementing the secondhand clothing import ban. As the EAC fulfills the ban, the impact of this on its economy will become clear.

– Claire Bryan
Photo: Flickr

Donate by SavingThere are countless efforts around the globe working to improve living conditions for those in extreme poverty. While per capita, Americans are the biggest charitable givers on Earth, charitable contributions can be increased. By cutting back on everyday living expenses, it is possible to donate by saving money.

Alternatives to Buying Bottled Water

Drinking water is a healthy habit, but bottled water is costly and creates single-use plastic waste.

One way to donate by saving is buying a reusable water bottle. For instance, the reusable Dopper bottle donates 5 percent of every purchase to the Dopper Foundation, an organization working to improve water resources in Nepal.

Upon saving money on single-use bottles, the amount saved can be diverted to a charitable cause. The average American spends around $266 on disposable water bottles, which can add up to over $17,000 in a lifetime. Those savings could be donated to support the work of organizations like Water is Life which pledges to provide clean drinking water to a billion people by 2020.

Water is Life helps communities around the world gain access to clean water through many means, including filters and wells. After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the organization sent filtration straws and portable filtration systems to the hardest-hit parts of the island. Currently, it is working on installing 40 solar-and-wind-powered water filtrations stations in the northwest part of the country. The stations are capable of providing 20,000 liters of drinking water a day.

Credit Card Fee Avoidance

A recent survey of 200 U.S. credit cards found that credit cards average 4.35 fees per card. Furthermore, every card in the survey charged at least one fee.

No-fee cash-back cards are available. Card issuers will also offer a cost break to customers with a long series of on-time payments by lowering their interest rates, waiving the very occasional late fee, or both.

Trading in a big-annual-fee card, asking for late waivers and lowering interest rates can save cardholders $100 – 200 per year. The amount saved is almost enough to fund a grant to a Kenyan or Ugandan entrepreneur through Village Enterprise, which can transform the lives of a family living in poverty.

Since its founding in 1987, Village Enterprise has trained more than 154,000 owners who have gone on to create 39,000 businesses. One such success story is Angela Adeke, a Ugandan woman who was denied the opportunity to attend school due to her family’s extreme poverty. After her own children were denied entry to school because they could not afford uniforms, Adeke took action. With the help of a $150 grant, she invested in fabric and sewing machines for her tailoring business. Adeke sewed her own children’s uniforms and made uniforms for more than 4,000 Ugandan children. She now trains disenfranchised young women to become tailors.

Household Maintenance

The average family spends $6,649 on home maintenance. From major repairs to even the price of lawn mowing, it all adds up. A recent survey from Homeadvisor shows that 72 percent of new home buyers are learning how to do their own repairs. Video tutorials are now available online for most projects, enabling families to save on expenses.

The savings can be donated to a charity like Heifer International, an organization that helps families help themselves. The organization has been active in 25 countries, helping more than 32 million families to overcome poverty and hunger. In Nepal, projects targeting women have contributed to improved gender equality. Nine out of 10 of the families in Nepal interviewed say they had increased their income as a result of Heifer International projects, and it is possible to donate by saving on expenses as manageable household maintenance.

Trimming the Food Bill

Most Americans spend nearly half of their monthly food budget on eating out. By preparing more meals at home and packing a lunch more often, these funds can be diverted to donations. A conservative estimate is that preparing one meal per week instead of eating out will save more than $800 per year. These savings can fight worldwide hunger when diverted to an organization like The Hunger Project (THP).

The Hunger Project works to end hunger through strategies that are sustainable, grassroots and women-centered. Mozambican citizen Moises Fenias Malhaule is an example of a THP success story: Malhaule joined THP education and microfinance programs, and in ten years, he has expanded his farm and paid for his children’s education. Malhaule has also taken many courses in development and construction and shared his knowledge with his community. Donations to organizations like this not only help individuals but often have ripple effects, making entire villages more resilient and self-sufficient.

Organizations like Water is Life, Village Enterprise, Heifer International and The Hunger Project are making a considerable impact in global poverty reduction, but their work relies on financial contributions.  While finding the extra money to donate can be challenging, with a few lifestyle tweaks, it is entirely possible to donate by saving money.

– Francesca Singer 
Photo: U.S. Air Force

Generous Billionaires
The most generous billionaires prefer to start charitable institutes or foundations with experts to distribute their money to worthy causes. Some accept applications for grants; others prefer to seek out organizations. Keep reading to learn more about the top seven most generous billionaires.

Top 7 Most Generous Billionaires

  1. Bill Gates
    The co-founder of Microsoft is now the co-chairman and trustee of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, currently the wealthiest foundation in the world. Since 2000, the foundation has spent $36 billion on global health, disaster relief, poverty relief and more. It offers grants to a variety of nonprofits for-profits, and government agencies to carry out data-driven programs. The organization focuses on issues such as global health, such as vaccinations, malaria eradication and safe disposal of human waste.
  2. Chuck Feeney
    This entrepreneur and real estate mogul has earned the nickname “James Bond of Philanthropy.” He is an Irish-American who became a billionaire in the 60s and 70s. But in 1984, he agreed to sign away everything to his foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies. In 2003, he decided to spend his entire fortune in his lifetime, or, as he puts it, “giving while living.” Atlantic Philanthropies is currently in eight countries and has given away $8 billion to “promote fairness and equity for all.” Chuck Feeney’s generosity index (amount given versus current net worth) is 420,000 percent. The foundation is expected to close its doors in 2020 when he achieves his goal of giving everything away.
  3. Warren Buffett
    Warren Buffett is the most charitable billionaire in America, outranking even Bill Gates. He has given away $46 billion since 2000, about 71 percent of his fortune. The Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, named in honor of his late wife, pledged $150 million a year in grants to help disadvantaged women by making reproductive healthcare accessible, in addition to other social causes. He has created the now-famous Giving Pledge, in which he calls on generous billionaires to donate half their wealth.
  4. Azim Premji
    The chairman of information technology company Wipro, Azim Premji, dedicates his wealth to improving India’s primary education. Rather than distributing grants, Premji’s foundation, the Azim Premji Foundation, chooses to work with state and local governments to build schools, write curriculum, buy supplies and many other tasks.  He has given away $21 billion and reached 3.5 billion schools. When the foundation could not find enough teachers, Premji created the Azim Premji University to focus on education and development. His donations make him the most generous man in Indian history.
  5. Michael Bloomberg
    The founder and CEO of Bloomberg Media, Michael Bloomberg has given $6 billion through his foundation Bloomberg Philanthropies and has promised half his wealth to the Giving Pledge. His philanthropy is focused on five areas he is passionate about: the environment, public health, the arts, government innovation and education. He is particularly drawn to global warming and other issues, where others might refuse to act due to controversy.
  6. Sheikh Sulaiman bin Abdulaziz bin Saleh Al Rajhi
    Al Rajhi began his career in 1939 at age 10 as a kerosene seller. In 1957, he and his three brothers co-founded the Al Rajhi Bank. The bank saw great success during the oil boom of the 1970s. The family is currently Saudi Arabia’s richest non-royal family. His charitable institution currently funds 1,200 projects across the kingdom. He has given approximately $5.7 billion toward educational, health and religious causes.
  7. George Soros
    After nine years as a successful hedge fund manager, George Soros created his charitable Open Source Foundations. “Open society is based on the recognition that our understanding of the world is inherently imperfect…what is imperfect can be improved,” says Soros on the name of his foundation. His first venture started by offering scholarships to black South Africans and Eastern European dissidents at the University of Cape Town to study abroad. It is now the second-largest American charity, behind the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Soros has given $8 billion to Open Source Foundations.

According to Forbes, there are more than 2,000 billionaires in the world. Many only donate a nominal amount to charity. The generous billionaires on this list have been chosen not by the dollar amounts of their donations, but the percentage of their fortune they have given away.

In 2010, the Gates partnered with Warren Buffett to create the Giving Pledge, a commitment by wealthy individuals to give over half of their wealth away. The Pledge started with 40 individuals but has since grown to 190. Buffet stated, “More than 99 percent of my wealth will go to philanthropy during my lifetime or at death. Measured by dollars, this commitment is large. In a comparative sense, though, many individuals give more to others every day.”

Jackie Mead
Photo: Google Images

Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg is most commonly known as the founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Facebook. He is also one of the wealthiest people in the world. Zuckerberg is an American technology entrepreneur and philanthropist. He is using his fame a fortune to help donate and raise awareness to put an end to global issues. With a net worth of $69.5 billion, Mark Zuckerberg’s charitable donations are a way in which this famous young man is using his own wealth in making the world a better place.

The Beginning of the Donations

Mark Zuckerberg’s charitable donations are based on his pledge to donate 99 percent of his wealth to charities over the course of his life. He vowed himself to this by signing the Giving Pledge. The Giving Pledge is a commitment by the world’s wealthiest individuals to dedicate the majority of their wealth into charities and for good causes. Within this pledge, Zuckerberg also wants to promote equality and advance the human potential for future generations.

In September 2016, Mark and his wife Priscilla Chan sold $95 million in Facebook stocks so that they could give the proceeds to charity. They plan to sell the stocks in the amount to at least $1 billion each year. So far, Zuckerberg has donated $45 billion to charitable purposes. He and his wife firstly pledged to give donations to charity by writing an open letter to their daughter who was born in late 2015. The birth of their daughter inspired them to change the world and environment and make it a better place for their daughter to live in.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

Mark Zuckerberg’s charitable donations also include the joint work with his wife, Doctor Priscilla Chan, in creating and working in their own organization called the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. This organization aims to create education reform, biomedical advancements, immigration reform and housing affordability. In addition, it focuses on improving the education system, global development, health and criminal justice systems policy.

All money that is donated and raised to this organization goes into helping these global issues. Zuckerberg’s goal through this initiative is to focus on areas of personal learning, curing disease, connecting people and building strong communities. Through the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Mark Zuckerberg and wife pledged to donate $3 billion over the course of 10 years.

Donations Toward Education

In 2010, Zuckerberg and his wife donated $100 million to improve the public schools in Newmark. Lack of education is one of the leading causes of poverty, and Zuckerberg and his wife’s donations in support of this issue help children get the right education they need to be successful in life. By getting a child the proper necessities they need in education overall gives them a better education. If a child is falling behind in first grade and then moves on to third grade and is still falling behind they will likely stay behind later on due to not having the right necessities for their work.

Donations in Africa and India

Mark Zuckerberg’s charitable donations also include donating $25 million towards a start-up that trains African developers as well as donating $50 million that creates an app designed to be a learning tool in India to help less fortunate gain access to education for a better future. Zuckerberg is a big advocate of learning and education.

With that being said, he has donated $30 million with his organization the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to help kids learn to read by technology. Zuckerberg uses technology to tailor the learning materials with kids’ interests, abilities and pace of work. Zuckerberg launched “Reach Every Reader”, a five-year initiative to build a web-based screening tool that is used to diagnose reading problems before kids can even read. This program is based at home as well as in schools to personalize literacy support or kids, teachers and parents.

Mark Zuckerberg uses his fame and fortune to help people in need all over the world. He has teamed up with his wife Doctor Priscilla Chan to create the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. Mark Zuckerberg’s charitable donations’ overall goals are to focus on areas in all over the world to generate positive impacts in places of great need.

– Ariel Deahl
Photo: Flickr

International Book Donation Programs
A new book can mean everything. It can transport you to a new world, untouched by your reality; it can comfort you; it can teach you. From novels to textbooks, international book donation programs help to shape our world and educate those who its words touch.

International Book Donation Programs

International book donation programs are a beautiful thing. They are run by some of the most powerful organizations in the world, for example the World Bank, or by grassroots movements. According to the World Bank, the world literacy rate is at 86 percent, the highest it has ever been. This means it is the best time to donate books and that every book donated can make a significant impact.

Over 30 years ago, the World Bank started the International Book Bank (IBB). Its slogan, “Books save lives,” was once one of the world’s largest international book donation programs and supported smaller international book donation programs. Since its inception in 1987, the IBB has shipped over 30 million new books around the world.

Many of these books were donated by the publishers themselves and sent on to individual schools and charities to be utilized by local institutions. However, in 2016 the IBB had to change with the world. According to their website, the spread of terrorism in many of their areas of operation, coupled with rising shipping cost and publishers moving to electronic texts, meant a strategy restructure.

International Book Bank and The International Book Project

Instead of en-mass shipping, the IBB shifted its focus to smaller and more precise projects, such as Liberia 20/20. Liberia 20/20 was started in mid-2016 and is intended to strengthen the Liberian education and library system through modern times. The IBB helps to develop electronic indigenous material for children and young adults and encourage indigenous authors to share their work by teaching them about property rights and translation. 

In Kentucky, there exists a grassroots, NGO international book donation program called The International Book Project (IBP). The IBP was founded in 1966 by Harriet Van Meter and since its inception, the IBP has sent over 6 million books worldwide. By sending books around the world, the IBP sees its efforts as a way to teach Americans about their world neighbors.

With a valid mailing address, a single person or organization can have anywhere from a 100 books in separate boxes or an entire shipping container with 10,000 to 40,000 books. The IBP provides books from all different genres and types, and works closely with Habitat for Humanity and Kentucky Refugee Ministries. The Kentucky Refugee Ministries is an organization which provides assistance to refugees resettling in the United States.

Books for Africa and E-Readers

One of the largest international book donation programs in the world, and the largest one dedicated to the African continent, is Books For Africa. Over 41 million books have been shipped by Books for Africa. According to their website, they have donated three million books and 93 computers and e-readers in the last year.

Utilizing computers for reading is a practice quickly growing and vastly important. Not only are publishers focusing more and more on electronic text, but computer programs and games are also being used to learn to read. Although the feeling of a book in your hand cannot be replicated, research becomes much easier when one deals with large texts on a computer rather than in sixteen pounds of books. This reality is why many of these computers and e-readers came with books already installed.

A Book or Two

The World Bank completed many studies since the mid-1980s in African countries, and findings showed that each time students received donated books, they had a higher chance to retain what they learn and retain fluency in the language. The good news is that these are not the only programs donating and shipping books.

It is easy to donate a book or two yourself to one of these charities. The University of Buffalo has an easily navigable list of international book donation programs for you to choose from. So as you read this and think about all those extra books stuffed in your basement, remember they have the potential to do better elsewhere.

– Nick DeMarco
Photo: Flickr

How to Fight for Social JusticeAn important thing to keep in mind when learning how to fight for social justice is what social justice really is. Fighting for social justice is a way of solving social inequalities. Social inequalities can come in different forms, but they revolve around two major categories: inter-social treatment and unequal government regulation.

Inter-social treatment describes the treatment of groups of people on a local and regional scale and deals with issues such as racism, sexism, ageism and heterosexism. These social inequalities are commonly based on personal beliefs.

Unequal government regulation describes the laws and regulations in place which discriminate against minorities. These often relate to poverty, the death penalty, civil rights and access to healthcare and education.

Health, education, social mobility, crime and wellbeing are directly correlated to social inequalities due to inter-social treatment and unequal government regulation. It is important to remember that these two categories of inequality are often linked to each other. These social inequalities can be experienced directly and indirectly, and it is important to keep that in mind when learning how to fight for social justice.

Direct social inequality is the deliberate mistreatment of minorities or groups of people. This can come in the form of actions that take away resources and opportunities from select groups of people based on prejudices and personal beliefs. This type of inequality can include, but is not limited to, physical and/or verbal assault on a person or group of people and laws created based on established prejudices.

Indirect social inequality is enforcing unfair treatment of people unintentionally. Many people are guilty of this form of oppression because they are simply unaware of it. Consumerism is a large factor in this form of social inequality, because often the products being purchased are made by sweatshop workers, produce waste and chemicals which pollute the areas where impoverished people live and even support political candidates who promote social inequalities.

Taking action on a social issue is a major step in learning how to fight for social justice. Activism, by definition, is using consistent campaigning to bring social and/or political change. With the technology available today, even the busiest of people can become activists for social issues through a variety of means:

  • Using social media
    One of the easiest ways to fight for social justice is to use a social media platform. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are all great starting points to grow an active voice for social justice. In today’s age of technology, something as small as a hashtag can be the start of a worldwide social justice movement, such as the “Black Lives Matter”, “Love Wins” and the “Me Too” movements.
  • Donating
    Organizations are always in need of donations to their cause, because to fight for social justice, organizations need funding. For some, it is not always practical to donate money, so an alternative is to consider donating your time. Holding fundraisers, hosting rallies and participating in sponsored walks are all great ways to fight for social justice through activism.
  • Contacting Congress
    A critical part of fighting for social justice is starting from the ground up in local government. Big movements take small steps towards greatness, and one way to help move forward for social justice is making a change in government. Contacting Congress about issues and concerns is a pivotal part of creating change. Voting in leadership who support important causes is another important step in fighting for social justice.
  • Joining local groups
    Connecting with local activist groups can help you stay up to date on events, fundraisers, news and information on social issues.

Whether we are fighting against global poverty, racism, sexism, ageism or the many other social issues that face us, the answer to “how to fight for social justice” is understanding what social justice is, finding a voice and using it through activism.

– Courtney Hambrecht

Photo: Flickr

donated bicyclesBicycles are essential to communities in developing countries. A bicycle provides an advanced mobility that allows for heavier loads, faster trips, less wear and tear on the body and, happily, the chance for recreation. A person’s day will include more accomplishments in less time.

Bicycles mean productivity. And donated bicycles mean opportunity.

Getting the Donated Bicycles

Entrepreneurs and nonprofit organizations alike have become forces in mobilizing citizens with donated bicycles. Mike’s Bikes, a California-based bike shop, partners with other area businesses and organizes bike drives to fill shipping containers full of used bicycles and spare parts. Like Mike’s Bikes, Bicycles for Humanity ships bikes and parts in containers, and both organizations outfit the containers so they can become bike shops for the village in which they land. Bicycles for Humanity even refers to their containers as Bicycle Empowerment Centers.

World Bicycle Relief produces new bicycles, known as Buffalo Bikes, through monetary donations. They are built specifically for the rugged conditions of the particular region, with puncture-proof tires and a heftier frame for carrying more cargo. Bicycles Change Lives also produces new bicycles, naming its program Qhubeka, a Nguni word that means, “to progress,” or, “to move forward.”

Creating Jobs

Bikes for the World also ships donated bicycles and parts in large containers. The organization focuses on Africa, Central America and the South Pacific, and works with partners like the Village Bicycle Project in Ghana and Sierra Leone and the Madagascar Community-Based Integrated Health Project (MAHEFA) in Madagascar.

In El Salvador, the Salvadoran Center for Appropriate Technology (CESTA) has built up an impressive bike shop, and an equally impressive program for training at-risk youth to work in it through the reconditioning, repair and maintenance of bikes. CESTA runs EcoBici, the training program aimed at helping young people build skills and stay out of gangs.

Donated bicycles are so vital that, as the youths learn to eventually manage their own shops, they find themselves at the center of their community with positive engagement and interaction. For people of all ages, the village bike shop has become an integral component in developing countries as a productive hub for societal and industrial activity.

Healthcare Workers and Their Patients

Remarkably, bicycle transportation improves health in rural areas, and not just for the rider. Amid the health crises in regions of Africa, trained healthcare workers and volunteers do all they can to visit patients in their homes and in hospitals, but are often traveling on foot.

In Zambia, one community volunteer, Royce, works to help citizens of her village by testing their HIV/AIDS status and educating them on prevention and treatment. Before she received her bike, she would walk seven kilometers each day to visit three patients. Now, thanks to World Bicycle Relief, she travels on two wheels and visits 18 patients, including vulnerable children, in a single day. “I’m always happy when I ride my bike,” says Royce. “People in my community recognize me.  They say, ‘There goes our caregiver on her bike.’”

Elsewhere in Zambia, three healthcare volunteers, Gertrude, Robert and Francis, who work to prevent and treat malaria in their region, enjoy a similar experience when they are recognized on their bright orange Buffalo bikes, painted so for the 1500 health workers in the area.  “When they see the bikes,” says Robert, “they know we have come to fight malaria.”

Statistics at World Bicycle Relief show that the over 138,000 Buffalo Bike-mobilized healthcare workers can reach 45 percent more patients and travel four times further than was possible on foot.

Education and Empowering Girls

The greatest challenge for most children wanting to attend school in developing countries is simply getting there. World Bicycle Relief statistics point out that the attendance of a student with a bicycle increases up to 28 percent, while their academic performance increases up to a dramatic 59 percent. And for girls, completing their education means they are six times less likely to become child brides.

For one 15-year-old girl, Ethel, a two-hour trek to school across rough terrain is now a 45-minute bike ride. Being on time helped her become a confident and exemplary student. Ethel even began using her bicycle to transport fellow classmates to school.

Education is key for the progressing dimensions of developing nations, including breaking the cycle of poverty. From 2009 to 2016, over 126,000 students have received Buffalo Bikes through World Bicycle Relief.

The advantage of mobilization by donated bicycles for workers, healthcare volunteers and students is tremendous. It also reaches farmers and small business operators who can travel greater distances with more wares to sell. It reaches citizens like businessman Ernest in Ghana, who gets his work done earlier in the day and can now coach a local youth soccer team in the time he’s saved. It reaches 14-year-old Koketso, who says there is now a cycling club at her school and that she’d like to take cycling up as a sport.

“With my bicycle,” Koketso says, “I can visit a lot of places that I have never seen before.”

– Jaymie Greenway

Photo: Flickr

 

Donate to Fight Poverty

 

blood donation rates multiplied in haitiAfter the devastation of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, health challenges greatly increased. Thousands of men, women and children were seriously injured or their livelihoods were threatened following the disaster. The National Blood Transfusion Center (NBTC) located in Port-au-Prince was destroyed, which reduced monthly national blood collections by over 46 percent.

The NBTC was responsible for the majority of blood collections as well as screening all of Haiti’s blood donations for transfusion-transmissible pathogens. Many of the men, women and children in critical conditions that were waiting for blood transfusions were thus unable to get the treatment necessary to survive. Organizations such as the Haitian Red Cross relied on foreign aid in order to collect a blood supply to help as many patients as possible.

Rapid efforts were put into place to actively repair damages and increase the scale of blood donations following the earthquake. By 2014, blood donation rates had multiplied in Haiti. Before the earthquake, blood collections were 52 percent in Port-au-Prince, which is the largest city in Haiti. As part of the recovery plan, Haiti’s Ministry of Health (MSPP) created the National Blood Safety Program (NBSP) in order to increase blood collections in outer regions of Haiti, hoping to decrease focus on the Port-au-Prince area, as this was where most of the damage was received.

Expanding the blood transfusion posts, where blood donations were completed and blood stored, was also a goal of the NBSP, as this would also encourage more active participation in blood donations throughout the entirety of Haiti. Prior to the 2010 disaster, Haiti was one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere. This was only exacerbated following the destruction. Building blood transfusion posts, recruiting donors and obtaining healthy blood were intense challenges faced by health and humanitarian efforts.

However, with collaborative efforts of MSPP and the Haitian Red Cross, as well as generous donations from international relief agencies, the NBSP saw their efforts paying off within years. By building a greater geographic area for all participants to access transfusion centers, blood donation rates multiplied in Haiti. By 2012, annual blood collections exceeded pre-earthquake levels and continued to increase. By 2014, collections were 36 percent higher than in 2009. Both the international community and local community within Haiti understood the necessity for blood transfusions in the country, and volunteers rose to the occasion.

Blood donation rates multiplied in Haiti due to other efforts as well, outside of building new facilities. In 2012, Haiti initiated a new plan to continue attracting volunteers for blood donations. The country aimed to increase the percentage of voluntary blood donors to 85 percent and regular donors to 40 percent. It also sent mobile blood drivers around Haiti to network with the community and discuss the importance of blood donations. Incentives were given out, like t-shirts, books and stickers, to attract locals to the idea.

Using technology to network also became an important driver. The Haitian Red Cross Society hosts a biweekly radio show to educate listeners on the subject and encourage lifesaving behaviors. Particularly on important dates such as Blood Donor Day, the National Blood Transfusion Center produces messages on the radio and through text for people to donate blood, which can help compensate for limited stocks at different moments in time.

These combined efforts have clearly exemplified the dedication that Haiti has to reaching its goal of 100 percent donation rates in upcoming years. Its work has set an example for nations worldwide that have suffered from similar problems in obtaining efficient blood collections to treat those in need.

– Caysi Simpson

Photo: Flickr

Millennials Give to CharityGeneration Y, whose members are commonly referred to as “millennials,” is often considered to be the most selfish generation. However, the perceived narcissism of millennials is a simplified and inaccurate depiction of this age group. Recent data has proven something that older generations can’t seem to believe: millennials care about people other than themselves. In fact, many millennials give to charity.

According to the Millennial Impact Report, 75 percent of millennials donated to charity in 2011. That number increased to an impressive 84 percent in 2015. Seventy percent of millennials even help raise funds for their favorite causes.

If the charitable millennial still seems like an imaginary creature, consider Micaela Hill, a 22-year-old volunteer with AmeriCorps NCCC. At present, Hill is involved in disaster relief efforts in Texas. Two years ago, she did medical volunteer work in Guatemala. Needless to say, she resents the self-absorbed image bestowed on her and her fellow millennials. “I am currently surrounded by 300 charity-minded millennials,” Hill told The Borgen Project. “My friends have always been willing to help others.”

Conceding that millennials are engaged in charity work, is there anything to support the myth of the “narcissism epidemic” that supposedly plagues them? A study done by the University of Illinois’ psychology department determined that college-age individuals score the highest on Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) assessments. However, the research also explains that this phenomenon has little to do with generations and more to do with maturation. Young people today actually earn lower NPI scores than young people 20 years ago.

Indeed, millennials give to charity and they are doing so in modern and tech-savvy ways. An estimated 62 percent of millennials make charitable donations online. The Digital Age has led to the birth of fundraising websites like Indigogo and Kickstarter, which make donating fast and simple for proficient web-users. Eight percent of millennials give to charity through social media platforms, and 50 percent use their social media accounts to share information about charities and causes they believe in.

In Hill’s opinion, the Internet and social media contribute crucially to millennials’ awareness of global affairs. “Now everyone knows about [global issues] and can become aware of what they can do to help,” she says.

Most millennials report that when they give to charity, they want the opportunity to see the good their donation has done. This desire to make a visible change in the world is considered narcissistic according to the NPI test, but many millennials would argue it is admirably ambitious. Hill is one such individual.

“We all haven’t had the chance to enact the changes we want to see in the world yet, but we are now coming of age. Our time is coming.”

– Mary Efird

Photo: Flickr

How to Help People in Peru
An imbalance of power between the government and its citizens continues to burden Peru. Corruption is rampant in the agricultural sector given that Peru’s plentiful natural resources keep its economy afloat, despite widening wage gaps. The country lives in the shadow of a civil war which cost the lives of nearly 70,000 people. Considering the various plights of the Peruvian people, from gender inequality to widespread poverty, it may initially seem difficult to procure a definitive strategy on how to help people in Peru. While modern day Peru faces an array of conflicts, there are many organizations which have formed in response to the various needs of the country.

With its history of autocratic governments, Peru is in desperate need of governmental assistance and foreign aid to protect the rights of its citizens from corruption in the government. One organization whose aim is to prevent further governmental strife is the Peru Support Group. This organization fights corruption through meticulous research of Peru’s current political and social climate and from there uses the information to improve policy as well as provide expedient news on how to help Peru. One can support the ongoing success of the Peru Support Group through donations as well as by familiarizing oneself with the data created by the organization to breed awareness for the conflicts Peru faces today.

Given that a cornerstone of Peruvian culture emphasizes the values of the family unit, this mindset has encouraged families to grow as well as to integrate extended family members into a single household. This results in many people sharing the same roof with very limited resources. In order to meet the needs of their families, Peruvian children often are forced to work on the streets vending an assortment of products from gum to souvenirs.

On a visit to Peru’s capital of Iquitos, Paul and Sandi Opp were deeply affected by how this epidemic of poverty was especially burdensome for children and relentlessly sought information on how to help people in Peru. The two formed the organization People of Peru Project, which has built a crisis center and an administrative dormitory to provide for the poor of Peru from childhood to adulthood. Over the years, the project has seen Peruvian inhabitants grow from poverty to successful careers in fields such as medicine, law and engineering. The organization makes it easy for others to contribute to the organization through means of volunteering and/or donations on their site.

The most recent conflicts which have wrought disaster on Peru are the recurring instances of mudslides that are happening across the country. The current death toll stands at 100 people and countless others are suffering from homelessness after the series of mudslides tore through more than 800 cities. While the Peruvian government has made great strides in doing all that it can to prevent further havoc, the media has not done its part in raising awareness for international funding to counter the incidents.

Fortunately, great mobilization is occurring through grassroots organizations in the United States, such as the Peruvian community living in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia to provide aid. Anyone can contribute to the cause of how to help people in Peru just through sharing articles on social media to gain attention from the media, but especially those living in the above-mentioned areas can donate to local Peruvian relief organizations.

Volunteering, raising awareness, and donating toward social, economic and political relief in Peru is not only an investment in the country itself but also in the future. The inequality, social discrimination, and government instability of Peru do not only affect it within its borders; if the natural resources of Peru are not protected and properly sourced then it jeopardizes the prosperity of several other South American countries. It is not merely a topic of concern in terms of altruism but of international practicality and pragmatism.

Kaitlin Hocker

Photo: Flickr