fighting poverty with booksOxfam, an organization based out of Kenya, is fighting global poverty with books. How does that work, exactly? All over the world, second-hand Oxfam bookstores have popped up, sparking interest in the cause.

Oxfam: Alleviating Global Poverty

Oxfam provides support to people worldwide who suffer from disasters and poverty and works to build lasting solutions to these problems. Through “challenging the powerful,” Oxfam aims to hold those in power accountable for their actions in order to promote sustainable change. Oxfam challenges those in power by allowing disadvantaged groups’ voices to be heard, pressuring policy change and starting discussions with those in power to advocate for those in poverty. Throughout their 70 years of existence, the lives changed through Oxfam are widespread.

Nearly one out of every three people live in poverty. The organization believes that the global community can alleviate global poverty by confronting the injustices in the world. In doing this, Oxfam provides a voice for those who often go unheard in their daily lives.

While working in 90 countries, Oxfam alone has changed the lives of tens of millions of people worldwide. Many different strategies are used, such as supporting NGOs on the ground aiding communities in need, donating funds and resources to humanitarian organizations and pursuing legal action for those in need. But perhaps the most interesting is the use of fighting global poverty with books.

The Oxfam Bookstore: Fighting Poverty With Books

A popular place for local bookstores to emerge is in Great Britain. Walking through Oxford, near the pub C.S. Lewis frequented, is an Oxfam bookstore. The books within are donated to the organization and dispersed to their many locations. In selling these books to raise money, Oxfam is able to further fund their multi-faceted poverty-fighting agenda.

In these bookstores, it is easy to find books from all genres. A typical look through the stores features books from popular Young Adult fiction to antiquated books that are no longer in circulation. If a large bookseller hears about Oxfam, it is quite common for newly printed copies to be put on the shelves, as well.

If there is not an Oxfam bookstore location near you, it is now possible to shop their selection online. To promote the organization’s values, it is essential for them to collect as many books as possible to boost sales. When looking online, it is easy to find the genres, and even has a highlighted section to promote antiquarian, signed and valuable books.

To be more specific, volunteers to run both Oxfam thrift stores and book shops around the world. The funds raised are then dispersed to their various home bases. Through these bookstores’ contributions and by providing an accessible platform for people to donate and contribute to valuable causes, Oxfam furthers the global fight against poverty.

Fighting Poverty One Book at a Time

For book lovers who want to change the world, Oxfam bookstores are a great way to help out those in need, while finding the newest story to delve into. From just a quick search, first edition novels such as Ross Poldark, Will Grayson and The Screwtape Letters can be found in these volunteer-led bookstores. Prices vary depending on the quality and rarity of these works, but it is clear that fighting global poverty with books is a great way to benefit both those in need and your own book cravings.

By fighting global poverty with books, Oxfam encourages widespread education that can be available to everyone, without having to explicitly say it. Confronting those in power to be held accountable for the change they can provide in relieving global poverty can be done through the simple transaction of a book from a small shop.

– Natalie Belford
Photo: Pexels

health technologies for developing countriesIn recent years, there have been numerous innovations in medicine and new health technologies for developing countries. These technologies target a large variety of issues including medical testing, identifying safe drinking water, filtering dirty water and decreasing infant and maternal mortality rates. Some innovations that have had a significant impact on global health and show potential for future interventions include Hemafuse, Embrace Warmers, 3D printing in medicine and SMS services to identify counterfeit medicine in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

Hemafuse

The Hemafuse is a recent example of new health technologies for developing countries. Autotransfusion is a medical procedure that recycles a patient’s blood back into their system. This practice can be extremely useful when there is no donor or matching blood type in injuries with large volumes of blood loss or internal bleedings. Blood transfusions are necessary for many medical situations. A significant number of maternal deaths in developing countries result from blood loss. Medics in Sub-Saharan Africa often use an extremely unsanitary technique of blood transfusion that involves a kitchen soup ladle because of the lack of alternatives. Before being reinfused into the patient’s system, the blood is filtered using gauze.

Sisu Global Health developed the Hemafuse for women with ruptured ectopic pregnancies to prevent life-threatening internal bleeding. The handheld device recovers blood from internal bleeds, filters out clots and impurities and reinfuses it the patient. Sisu Global Health is hoping to expand its design and impact 14 million lives. The device is easy to use and has the potential to decrease maternal mortality rates in developing countries. This is because it is sterile and does not require donor blood.

Embrace Warmers

The Embrace warmer is one of the health technologies for developing countries created to help newborns. The warmers were designed as portable incubators and warmers for newborns who are born premature or are lacking body fat. Lack of electricity and heating in hospitals can lead to complications such as neonatal hypothermia for newborns in developing countries. Jane Chen designed Embrace warmers at Stanford University and the device costs less than 1% of what regular incubators cost. More than 300,000 newborns in 22 countries benefitted from Embrace warmers. Organizations around the world have recognized this innovation, as well as influential people including Beyoncé and Barack Obama.

3D Printing for Developing Countries 

3D printing technology has resulted in huge advances in medicine. Specifically, 3D printing as a form of health technology for developing countries can help improve access to medical supplies. Developing prosthetics, setting up field hospitals and creating medical devices are all ways in which 3D printing can improve healthcare in developing countries.

Around the world, 80% of individuals who need prosthetics don’t have access to them. The e-NABLING the Future project is a network of volunteers who bring affordable 3D printing designs for hands and arms to those in need. There are many people in the developing world who have lost fingers or hands to war, natural disasters or disease. Through the 3D printing of prosthetics, these individuals have the opportunity to regain the use of their hands and fingers.

Doctors Without Borders has been looking into how 3D printing could be used for field hospital setups. Additionally, 3D printing allows for medical supplies to be produced directly in developing countries instead of being imported. This process can help spark medical development in poor areas instead of relying on products from other countries. Medical supplies produced by 3D printers include water testing kits that test for bacteria to determine if the water is safe for drinking and lab-in-a-box kits that are solar-powered and test for various diseases.

SMS Texting for Fake Drugs

Another increasingly pressing health issue is counterfeit medicine in sub-Saharan Africa. It is difficult to know exactly how many counterfeit drugs are circulating because the market is underground. However, there have been many counterfeit drug seizures in recent years. One out of every 10 medical drugs in all developing countries, and therefore most of Africa, is counterfeit or not standardized according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO also estimates that counterfeit medicine causes 116,000 deaths annually in Sub-Saharan Africa, costing $38.5 million every year.

While there needs to be structural reform to address the issue, a company founded in 2009 by Bright Simons from Ghana has developed a text messaging system so that users can verify whether the drugs they have are legitimate. The company has since grown and has helped more than 100 million individuals. Users must scan the drug’s barcode with their phone camera or text a code from the drug’s label to a hotline for verification.

Many exciting health technologies for developing countries have been introduced in recent years. These innovations can be extremely effective and have the potential to tackle global health issues, but proper access remains an issue. Simply developing these technologies does not ensure that underserved communities have access to them. Some of the most common issues regarding access are affordability, low supply and low production. This is due to the underestimation of the demand for products in developing countries. Developing access plans that take into account all of the social, economic and cultural barriers to access is crucial to ensure that these innovations can make an impact on global health in developing countries.

Maia Cullen
Photo: Flickr

Pets in Poverty
The numbers of medical supplies and resources are always falling short in impoverished nations. With an exceedingly high demand for hospital necessities such as surgical tools, disinfectants, bandages and more, these necessities often overshadow the needs of proper health care for pets. Governments in developing countries often do not have enough resources to allocate the necessary funds to help keep pets healthy and safe. Many local administrations will often resort to inhumane methods to control the large population of roaming animals, such as shooting, poisoning or drowning. Therefore, many animal rescue organizations provide the necessary means and tools to aid these pets in poverty. Here are three animal rescue organizations helping pets in poverty.

3 Animal Rescue Organizations Helping Pets in Poverty

  1. SPCA International: The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) is one of the leading nonprofit animal welfare organizations in the world. One of the most important programs SPCA International is working on is the spay and neuter procedures for animals in developing countries. Spaying and neutering are important for the quality of life for pets in poverty because many owners often abandon or give away any pets that have a chance of reproducing in fear of financial burden or neglect. SPCA International supports local organizations in countries with limited resources by providing cash grants through its Shelter Support Fund and veterinary tools through its Veterinary Supply Aid program. Additionally, it provides information and awareness about the ethics and importance of spaying and neutering. Local organizations, in turn, take the resources that the SPCA International provides to set up free or low-cost clinics and campaigns so that people can access the necessary health care for their pets. These low-cost campaigns are incredibly important for pets in poverty because there are little to no veterinary clinics able to provide accessible and cost-efficient health care in many regions. By supporting these spay and neuter campaigns, SPCA International continues to strive to reduce suffering and death for millions of animals.
  2. Animal Aid Unlimited: Animal Aid Unlimited (AAU) emerged in India in 2002. Its goal is to rescue and treat animals that people find on the street and are in need of medical attention. The organization runs an animal rescue center in India that doubles as a hospital and sanctuary for street animals. It found worldwide popularity by connecting its rescues and treatments through social media. AAU has more than 5.39 million subscribers on YouTube. The organization documents its rescues and medical treatment operations in short videos that often start out with anguishing undertones but end with a happy and healthy pet. The organization helps heal many of the pets in poverty left on India’s streets to die and shares the positivity online through its growing YouTube channel. AAU connects with and inspires the global community in its current efforts to help abandoned animals on the streets.
  3. Humane Society International: The Humane Society International (HSI) provides the necessary medical supplies and education for local governments in developing countries to enact humane ways of controlling growing animal populations. The organization works with local advocates in creating charities to battle against the inhumane shootings of unowned animals in the streets. With the support of HSI, local charities such as the Homeless Animals Protection Society in Ethiopia were able to emerge and thrive. These local charities receive the support to provide free or low-cost spay and neuter programs, as well as vaccination initiatives to combat deaths that rabies caused. The majority of deaths due to rabies occur in developing nations, and the vaccination equipment and education that HSI provides save thousands of people and animals each year.

While there are challenges getting health care to pets in developing nations, these three animal rescue organizations helping pets in poverty are truly making a difference. Through their continued efforts, pets should continue to receive the support they need.

Aria Ma
Photo: Pixabay

Social Media Fight Global PovertyIn today’s world, social media is a huge part of everyday life for most people. It allows for communication across continents with the simple click of a button. While many believe that social media imposes a negative impact on society, it is undeniable that this new means of communication can lead to extraordinary change. Here are five examples of social media fighting global poverty.

5 Examples of Social Media Fighting Global Poverty

  1. Joshua’s Heart Foundation is an organization using social media to tackle global poverty. Joshua Williams created the organization at the age of 4. By reaching out to his fellow youth through Facebook and Instagram, Joshua and his organization have raised more than $1 million toward ending hunger across the globe. The organization has nearly 12,500 followers on Facebook as well as 2,200 followers on Twitter, proving that a strong social media following allows for the opportunity to make an immense change.
  2. GlobalCitizen.org is an online community dedicated to raising awareness and inciting users to fight global poverty. The website encourages Internet users to learn more about extreme poverty on its website. When followers get involved,  they earn real-life rewards such as concert tickets for doing so. In its 10 years of existence, GlobalCitizen.org has cultivated a $48.4 billion commitment to aid the world’s poor. The website continues to grow as a social media platform, contributing heavily to the fight against extreme poverty. It aims to bring an end to the issue by 2030.
  3. #TweetsGiving was one of the earliest movements to use a social media website such as Twitter to fight global poverty and raise funds for a good cause. In 2008, the web-based organization Epic Change encouraged Twitter users everywhere to express their thanks. The hashtag “TweetsGiving” soon became the number one trending topic on Twitter. Participating users raised more than $11,000 as a way of honoring what they were grateful for. The money went to building a classroom in Tanzania, which included a wall displaying the Twitter handle of each donor. The #TweetsGiving movement has continued every year since its origin, accumulating more than $100,000 in donations. These donations have resulted in the development of schools, libraries and homes for disabled veterans in Tanzania, Nepal and the U.S.
  4. One Day Without Shoes is an Instagram campaign created by Toms Shoes, a Californian shoe company known for donating a pair of shoes to impoverished children for each pair sold. The campaign uses social media as a platform to fight global poverty by encouraging users to spend a day not wearing shoes. Users take photos documenting their experience and post them to Instagram with the hashtag “WithoutShoes.” It incited a movement that has resulted in people everywhere experiencing firsthand how difficult life can be when lacking an amenity often taken for granted. For every photo posted and tagged #WithoutShoes, Toms Shoes donates a pair of shoes to a child in need. As a result, Tom’s has given 100,000 shoes to youth living in poverty across 10 countries.
  5. #MealForShare was an Instagram trend that Colombian food bank ABACO generated in 2014 to draw attention to Colombia’s poverty issue. ABACO fabricated dozens of Instagram accounts through which the foodbank posted photos with the hashtag #MealForShare to display the devastating reality of poverty in Colombia. The posts featured rotten products as well as food dug out from the trash. Each meal featured in the posts was available for metaphorical purchase, prompting users to donate their chosen amount to ABACO. The trend contributed 185 tons of food to poor populations in Colombia.

From reward-granting websites to trending hashtags, there are countless ways that social media can provoke change when used as a tool for raising awareness. The Internet is now a major part of everyday life for people all over the world. This means everyone has the opportunity to join movements already in existence. They also have the chance to begin their own campaigns against global poverty, changing the world one click at a time.

– Harley Goebel

Photo: Flickr