Poverty eradication in ItalyMany programs are working toward innovations in poverty eradication in Italy. These programs include an income program instated by the government, a fuel poverty program partnership between two companies and charities that provide assistance to the needy. Here are four facts about innovations in poverty eradication in Italy:

4 Facts About Innovations in Poverty Eradication in Italy

  1. Italy’s welfare program: In 2019, Italy introduced a €7 billion income welfare program to help reduce poverty. As of 2018, 5.1 million people in Italy lived in poverty. This program targets those people, as well as Italian citizens, EU citizens and legal residents living in Italy for 10 years or more. Households whose annual income is equal to or below €9,360 are eligible. Those eligible receive €780 a month, which can help pay for essentials such as grocery, rent and utilities. In the program, individuals who are able-bodied are also required to sign up for job placement and training programs. Employers who hire individuals taking part in the program receive financial incentives.
  2. Reducing fuel poverty: Fuel poverty is present in Italy, but so are programs to help tackle it. Fuel poverty is defined by the European Energy Poverty Observatory as “the inability to keep the home adequately warm at an affordable cost.” This affects more than 3.9 million Italians per year. A U.K.-based company called PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) partnered with an international organization, Ashoka, to reduce low-income families living in fuel poverty in Italy. The project relies on social innovators and entrepreneurs to find novel methods of tackling fuel poverty and reducing it in Italy.
  3. Food stamps: Italian programs for food assistance are giving out free meals and food stamps. Particularly during the COVID-19 crisis, many Italians are facing unemployment, and about one million are in need of food assistance. Programs such as the Ronda della Solidarieta charity, which offers free dinners twice a week in Rome to those in need, and the Nona Roma association, which drops off boxes filled with food necessities to low-income Roman families, are helping reduce the amount of people who go hungry. In 2020, the prime minister of Italy, Giuseppe Conte, delegated €400 million for food stamps.
  4. Charities: Charities for the homeless and low-income are attempting to provide resources such as food and health items to those in need. The COVID-19 crisis can be especially difficult for homeless Italians, as closed restaurants and bars provide less access for them to wash their hands. Similarly, it can be difficult to obtain food while social distancing, and homeless people are sometimes stopped by the police for not abiding by quarantine laws. The Community for St. Egidio is a charity that keeps their soup kitchen open, and they distribute 2,500 meals per week. They are also seeking donations for face masks, hand sanitizers and food. 

There is still a long way to go in eradicating poverty in Italy, and COVID-19 may worsen the plight of low-income families in Italy. However, it is still important to note these programs as they help families in need and create innovations in poverty eradication in Italy.

– Ayesha Asad
Photo: Unsplash

plastic bottles solve homelessnessOverconsumption of plastic, especially by Americans, is a recurring problem for the environment. ReuseThisBag.com, a supplier of wholesale reusable and recycled eco-friendly promotional bags, reports that Americans use 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour. In addition, a 2010 report by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association (NOAA) states that plastic waste makes up roughly 80% of the world’s ocean pollution. With an overabundance of plastic bottles drifting both in water and on land, can recovered plastic bottles solve homelessness?

Plastic Bottles Solve Homelessness with Affordable and Durable Homes

Constructing homes using plastic bottles is not a new concept, but it’s gained traction in recent years in Africa, Central and South America, and Eastern Europe. The approach is solving two problems in one. By recovering plastic waste, particularly bottles, from areas where they contribute to pollution and compromise wildlife habitats, this concept helps the environment. Additionally, this project uses plastic bottles to solve homelessness by providing long-term shelter for individuals facing housing insecurity.

Nigeria provides an example of both benefits of this approach. The eco-based website Treehugger wrote, “In Nigeria, millions of plastic bottles are dumped into waterways and landfill[s] each year causing pollution, erosion, irrigation blockages, and health problems.” In addition, there are roughly 24.4 million homeless people in Nigeria. About 70% of people in the nation’s capital, Lagos, reside in informal and unstable housing. As many as 300,000 Lagosians struggle with housing insecurity and homelessness due to the government’s attempt to curb urban population growth. It’s estimated that Nigeria will need 16 million new homes to eliminate its housing crisis.

The Development Association for Renewable Energies (DARE), a Nigerian nonprofit organization, is stepping in to construct eco-friendly homes created from plastic bottles. The homes not only provide environmental protection and durability, but they are also fireproof, earthquake-proof and bulletproof.

The bottle wall technique was developed by German firm Ecotec Environmental Solutions (Ecotec Soluciones Ambientales). Other countries using this approach include Algeria, Honduras, Brazil and Argentina. Ecotec Environmental Solutions trains residents to collect water bottles before filling them with sand. They then stack the bottles side-by-side, layering them to create a wall. With each layer, mud or cement mix binds the bottles to create a solid structure that is 20 times stronger than a brick-based house. Each home requires about 14,000 plastic bottles.

Enough Plastic Bottles to Solve Global Homelessness

Plastic water bottles account for 1.5 million tons of plastic waste per year, with about 80% of bottles being discarded like garbage and not recycled or upcycled. Scientists predict that if the world’s citizens continue to pollute the Earth with plastic at the current rate, eventually humans will be over-consumed by plastic. This calls for immediate action to make use of the material that is not biodegradable and cannot be composted. With about 46,000 pieces of plastic floating per every square mile in the world’s oceans, can plastic bottles provide permanent housing for the 1 billion people facing homelessness globally while helping lessen humanity’s plastic problem?

Environmental consultant and founder of Ecotec Environmental Solutions, Andres Froese, sees a future in plastic bottle homes for people in developing nations that aren’t addressing housing crises quickly enough. Froese has so far used 300,000 plastic bottles for 50 home construction projects throughout the world. If this work carries on, we may see a world where plastic bottles solve homelessness.

– Vicki Colbert
Photo: Flickr

Homelessness in Samoa
A leading cause of homelessness in Samoa is its vulnerability to natural disasters and deadly cyclones. These natural disasters wipe out many families’ homes, businesses and churches, consequently leaving them homeless. The rural communities face the bulk of the homelessness problem due to a lack of access to clean water, land to grow crops and job opportunities. Around 18.8% of Samoa’s population lives below the national poverty line and most of that group lives in rural communities where there is a lack of jobs. Instead, the villagers rely heavily on their land for survival.

5 Facts About Homelessness in Samoa

  1. Homelessness in Samoa is partially due to the fact that many people do not have access to agriculture. This is because natural disasters can cause devastating land destruction. The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved a $20 million grant to the Samoa Agriculture and Fisheries Productivity and Marketing Project to help aid those in Samoa who suffer in the aftermath of natural disasters. The goal of this initiative is to rehabilitate communities and improve the construction of infrastructure in order to become more stable during natural disasters. Further, this collaboration will also seek to increase food productivity, nutrition and more consistent incomes for the Samoan people.
  2. Samoa is in close contact with countries that have a high income in labor markets, through permanent and temporary migration. Migration offers higher paying job opportunities which raise the amount of income in Samoan households. This, in turn, reduces the chances of homelessness in Samoa.
  3. Violence is prevalent in Samoan families and results in Samoa having one of the highest rates of family and sexual assaults in the world. In 2018, it became the first country in the Pacific Region to perform a National Public Inquiry into family violence — which unveiled that there is an “epidemic” of violence and sexual abuse. According to the report, 90% of respondents indicated some form of violence frequently transpiring at home. Nearly 60% of women experienced sexual abuse from a partner, 20% of women reported being raped and nearly 10% of women experienced incest. The high rate of family and sexual abuse is a determining factor for young girls in Samoa in running away from home — which in turn leads to homelessness.
  4. Many of the people in Samoa rely on agriculture as their main source of income. However, the catastrophe of natural disasters frequently destroys lands, which in turn takes away these Samoans’ means of survival. As of 2019, the unemployment rate in Samoa was 8.36%. The unemployment rate will only rise higher due to natural disasters’ effect on the land and the reduction in manufacturing work. These factors all contribute to the problem of homelessness in Samoa.
  5. One cause of homelessness is mental illness. According to the results from 2017 mental health data, 16.4% of homeless people in Samoa suffer from mental illness. Projects for Assistance in Transition for Homelessness (PATH) is an outreach program accessible in Samoa that offers help in many ways. Examples are diagnostic treatment, rehabilitation and referrals to primary health care providers for those experiencing mental illness.

An NGO Making a Difference

Although Samoa faces adversities such as poverty which leads to homelessness — no reliable statistics show exactly how many people are homeless in Samoa. Luckily, many people tend to have continuous access to the sea for fish and land to grow crops, which is how they can make an income. With the intent of creating a more secure economy and land for the people of Samoa, the nongovernmental organization Civil Society Support Program (CSSP) is currently working to reduce homelessness. The program emerged because of the recognition that through effective and sustainable Civil Society programs, the quality of life for the people of Samoa can improve. The program’s goal is to provide support within Civil Society groups that will improve their communities and provide more promising economic opportunities.

Montana Moore
Photo: Unsplash

Homelessness in Papua New GuineaAmidst everything that is currently happening around the world, one of the biggest challenges that Papua New Guinea faces is the growth of youth which already represents 60% of the entire population. If the government does not start acting accordingly, then these young people could become vulnerable to delinquency and violence and end up increasing overall homelessness in Papua New Guinea.

Life of Homeless Children

According to the Life PNG Care Director Collin Pake, there were around 5,000 homeless children in Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea, in 2018. Many of them migrated from the rural areas of PNG looking for cleaning jobs as a way to help their families, while others received encouragement to go to the capital in search of their dreams. Additionally, others left home after experiencing abandonment from their families or ran away because of abuse or losing their family to illness.

Housing Crisis

But no matter their reasons, when coming to the capital they encounter many obstacles that do not let them prosper. Since the beginning of the 21st century, the employment per ratio population in Papua New Guinea has considerably dropped from 69% to 46%. It is not news that finding well-paid employment in the capital is hard. For that reason, many young people engage in informal jobs to subsist, as well as many live out in the streets due to the high rent.

According to a research by Professor Eugene Ezebilo, head of the property development program at the PNG National Research Institute, rent around the capital is too high for low-income families; often an apartment listing can go for around $300-600 USD a week, which represents rent stress for many families living in Port Moresby. In this way, many either become homeless, recur to ask for money from other family members or live in the outskirts of the city in informal houses.

How Life PNG Care Improves the Lives of Homeless Children

In an effort to reduce homelessness in Papua New Guinea, Pake and his wife started LIfe PNG Care 12 years ago. In 2018, it granted shelter, food and care to around 54 children. It even offers an education program that caters to 100 children.

Life PNG Care offers accommodation, education and advocates for child protection. They run three main education programs: the Strongim Pikinini program, Home School education program and Mobile Education program.

Furthermore, efforts of NCD Food Bank volunteers have resulted in the preparation of food bags for the homeless, street kids, people with disabilities and those who are experiencing food poverty in Port Moresby. This work has been especially important during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Yet, the problem still continues unless more results come from the government. Indeed, a way to not let the youth become an obstacle for the economy is supporting them in every way possible with better access to education, health and employment. This youth with guidance can become quite an exceptional asset for the economy and in ending homelessness in Papua New Guinea

Alannys Milano
Photo: Flickr

Homelessness in Kyrgyzstan
Homelessness has been rising steadily in Kyrgyzstan and has remained a prominent issue within the country in recent years. Kyrgyzstan is a small, mountainous country located in central Asia. With a population of approximately 6 million, the country’s economy is in the lower-middle-income bracket with a GDP of $8 billion as of 2018 and has a heavy reliance on agriculture. It was a member of the Soviet Union until its collapse in 1991 and subsequently lost much of its financial support. Despite this, poverty has been steadily decreasing from 50% during the mid-1990s but remains high at approximately 22%. In addition, an estimated 70% of Kyrgyz citizens require new housing or are homeless.

Reality at a Glance

Approximately 3,500 Kyrgyz citizens living in the capital, Bishkek, are homeless, and the city only has one year-round homeless shelter that houses a maximum of 70 people. On top of this, Kyrgyzstan’s extremely cold weather during winter months makes the lack of safe housing potentially lethal, leading to dozens dying due to overexposure every year.

Many charity workers attribute the rise of homelessness in Kyrgyzstan to alcohol abuse, as well as the rising population, migration into larger cities, unemployment and inability for people to reintegrate into society after prison time. Additionally, the country has built very few new homes. In fact, 85% of houses emerged during the Soviet era, meaning that even those who have access to housing may not have access to basic necessities or require repairs.

Currently, Kyrgyz law dictates that every citizen should receive a plot of land. However, this policy led to corruption, and many are unable to claim their land due to bureaucratic obstacles. Migrants illegally grab land near Bishkek, and the government does not resettle or evict the migrants, which slows down the wait time for receiving an official plot of land. Additionally, many settlements do not have legal recognition or receive essential government services unless they already have a substantial infrastructure in place and have wealthier citizens wanting to move in. As a result, the government benefits from the labor of settlers working to improve previously inhabitable land into a desirable place to live.

A Look Forward

In spite of these difficulties, Kyrgyzstan’s economy has been steadily improving for the past 20 years, and the government has taken steps to try and remedy the homelessness in Kyrgyzstan. The country operates on the Affordable Housing program through the State Mortgage Company established in 2013. The company works to help the people of Kyrgyzstan gain access to houses, and for building new housing. Additionally, the Street Football Federation of Kyrgyzstan has been working with vulnerable children and marginalized adults living in illegal settlements in Kyrgyzstan by running annual tournaments at orphanages, providing humanitarian aid, and giving opportunities while selecting the national Homeless World Cup team.

Ever since 2010, Kyrgyzstan has been steadily stabilizing over the years. The causes of poverty within the country are not unsolvable, and humanitarian aid has greatly improved conditions. Despite the turmoil and economic unrest, there is still hope for the further reduction of poverty and homelessness in Kyrgyzstan.

Elizabeth Lee
Photo: Flickr

Homelessness in Iceland
Homelessness in Iceland has been on the rise, as the country continues to experience aftershocks of the 2008 economic crisis. Iceland has a population of 364,134 (about half the size of Seattle). Between 2009 and 2017, the city of Reykjavík experienced a 168% increase in the number of homeless citizens. Iceland’s current national homeless rate remains unknown, but the last data set released in 2011 showed that 761 people experienced homelessness in Iceland.

Why is Homelessness in Iceland Increasing?

Between high rates of job loss and a lack of affordable housing, most sources credit the 2008 financial crisis as the root cause of Iceland’s increasing rate of homelessness. With too many expensive houses and too few affordable living options, many Icelanders became unable to support themselves or their families and had to move out of their homes and into shelters. Several other factors also figure into homelessness in Iceland. These include:

  1. Gender: More women seem to be experiencing homelessness in Iceland than before. One particular shelter in Reykjavík saw an increase of 35 to 41 women in a month, and 27 of those women had never used the shelter service before. This indicates a need for more shelters, with staff attuned to the needs of women who experienced trauma from domestic abuse and sexual violence. Women also tend to stay at shelters longer than men — sometimes for months or years.
  2. Drug and alcohol addiction: Some Icelanders argue that a more long-term goal is to address the underlying problem of drug and alcohol addiction, which can often lead to homelessness. This would help break the vicious cycle of dependency and lack of reliable shelter.
  3. Age: A large number of Icelanders who homelessness affects are elderly. The 2017 report showed that only 47% of Iceland’s homeless are between ages 21 and 40. This aging demographic often requires more care and medical attention, in which case the general shelter may not be sufficient.
  4. Mental health: Although Iceland ranked third in the World Happiness Report, some argue that the mental healthcare system in the country is not sufficient. Poor mental health is yet another risk factor for homelessness.

More Homes, Fewer Homeless

In 2018, Icelanders received hopeful news when their government made homelessness a top priority. The city council of Reykjavík passed legislation calling for the building of 25 homes for the homeless population. These homes, with a minimum rent of 40,000 ISK or $363, emerged as a more financially accessible option than the typical Reykjavík home, while also being longer-term solutions in comparison to shelters. To many, this was a heartening call to action in the fight against homelessness in Iceland, as well as a moving example of a community coming together to protect their fellow citizens.

Today, reports say that while people are still utilizing shelters for short-term housing, few are sleeping on the streets in Iceland. Sleeping outside can be lethal in frigid temperatures, and access to affordable housing is key to providing safety and security for Icelanders in need.

Aradia Webb
Photo: Pixabay

Buses Aid the Homeless
In London, a nonprofit called Buses4Homeless is making good use out of decommissioned double-decker buses by turning them into mobile homeless shelters. These innovative buses aid the homeless, working towards ending homelessness in London and protecting vulnerable communities.

The Harsh Reality: Homelessness in London

Following the economic crisis that the global COVID-19 outbreak caused, the number of homeless people in London may rise. Even before the outbreak, however, homelessness in London has been an ever-growing problem. Since 2010, the number of homeless people in the major U.K. city has grown by 141%.

A rising homeless population comes with a plethora of related social problems. For instance, “rough sleepers,” or people who sleep on the street, are more likely to be victims of violence and suffer from mental health issues. Though the city government has social programs that aim to end homelessness, only 13% of London residents think that these programs are sufficient. Consequently, a few Londoners including Dan Atkins, founder of Buses4Homeless, are taking matters into their own hands and creating innovative solutions to homelessness.

Turning an Idea Into Action

Dan Atkins came up with the idea for Buses4Homeless in 2018 after he found that a friend had spent a night rough sleeping in the luggage bay of a coach bus. His idea was simple: refurbish buses into mobile homes that can function as social housing. Since then, his idea has grown into a successful nonprofit that serves as “a low-cost, holistic solution to homelessness.”

The nonprofit’s method is simple and sustainable. Buses4Homeless buys decommissioned double-decker buses and upcycles them into four types of mobile homeless shelters that travel through London: buses for eating, sleeping, learning and relaxing. The troupe of buses aid the homeless by working in tandem as a three-month program to secure housing and employment for each member. Importantly, the nonprofit strongly believes in taking a rehabilitative approach to end homelessness; the nonprofit provides job training and mental health services to members of the program to prevent suffering from the long-term consequences of chronic homelessness.

A Mobile Approach to Ending Homelessness

Buses4Homeless is unique in its ability to travel. The buses aid the homeless by being where people need them and going to places to benefit members of the program. In an interview with Reuters, Jonathan Pfahl, a training leader and mentor for the nonprofit, stated that “the genius thing with a bus is that we can take it wherever it’s needed … so park it in front of a job center, for example.”

The nonprofit’s innovative approach to ending homelessness has already motivated other passionate U.K. citizens to follow suit. Helping Open People’s Eyes, known as HOPE, has been working to end homelessness in Wales for years, but Buses4Homeless recently gave them the idea to purchase and transform a bus into a mobile homeless shelter. Now HOPE is almost done refurbishing their bus and looking forward to getting it on the streets of Wales.

Nonprofits like Buses4Homeless and HOPE are reimagining solutions to homelessness by transforming unused buses into mobile homeless shelters and rehabilitation centers. Their mobility allows them to be more adaptable and able to reach more people in need. Buses4Homeless has only been operating for two years, but its impact has been immense. Founder Dan Atkins hopes that the nonprofit will grow to a national and possibly international level in the future.

Courtney Bergsieker
Photo: Unsplash

Homelessness in JordanHomelessness is a major issue that almost all countries face around the world. There are many explanations for high rates of homelessness, such as mental health, addiction, unemployment, previous imprisonment and more. However, Jordan presents some of the lowest rates of homelessness across the entire world. In fact, homelessness in Jordan ceases to exist.

In 2017, the Ministry of Social Development in Jordan only reported sixteen cases of homelessness from 2000-2017. The vast majority of these cases (15/16) were accredited to mental health problems, and the sixteenth case consisted of a man who was unemployed and had recently lost his family.

Additionally, all sixteen of these individuals were taken care of and are no longer homeless. The Ministry of Social Development worked to place these citizens in mental health facilities or reconnect them with family members who can help them.

Reasons Why Jordan Has Low Rate of Homelessness

One of the main explanations for a low rate of homelessness in Jordan is its collectivist, tribal culture. A study conducted by Joshua Ahearn reveals that the Jordanian government is not responsible for solving issues of homelessness and instead, homelessness is remedied by family and community members.

Ahearn discusses how Jordanian tribal culture prioritizes taking care of family and members of a neighborhood regardless of an individual’s situation. For example, community members place shame on families who struggle with addiction. As a result, families take it upon themselves to help their own who may be struggling and bring them out of homelessness. Communities, or “tribal members” as Ahearn calls them are rather large so there are always people with resources that are willing to help.

How Jordanians View Homeless Individuals

Additionally, Ahearn created a survey in order to observe how citizens treat homeless people in their neighborhood, another part of Jordan, or even a non-Jordanian homeless citizen. This study showed that the vast majority of people take action rather than just passing by a struggling individual.

For instance, the findings explained that when approaching a homeless person in their neighborhood, citizens are “extremely likely to give money or engage in other actions such as informing the public or inviting them into their home.” Furthermore, for citizens outside of their community or non-Jordanian citizens, people are more likely to call a social service organization to get help or assistance. The Ministry of Social Development is the main organization that directly helps these individuals escape homelessness rather quickly, largely by contacting family members or a mental health facility.

Impact of Collectivist Culture on Homelessness Rates

Overall, homelessness in Jordan does not exist consistently. The main reason for the lack of homelessness can be traced to the strong tribal and community ties that are present throughout Jordan. Citizens work together to eradicate all causes of homelessness and as a result, the government does not need to combat homelessness with structural programs; in fact, government interference and other organizations have “no impact” on homelessness rates.

This approach would be rather difficult to implement in other countries since Jordan’s lack of homelessness is rooted in cultural values and community which could clash with existing values and priorities of other countries. In particular, a study conducted in the United States and South Korea compared the impact of a collectivist (South Korea) and individualist (United States) culture on homelessness. This study revealed that South Korea’s collectivist culture instilled a reliance on peers and family members for overcoming homelessness and strategies for helping themselves. Contrarily, United States citizens utilized social services and other organizations more than friends and family.

As a result, collectivist cultures, such as Africa and Asia, can learn from Jordan and South Korea when working to reduce their homeless populations. While all collectivist cultures may not be identical to Jordan in their lack of homelessness, investing in and encouraging neighborhoods and communities to help their own can yield positive results and less homelessness.

How Adopting a Jordanian Approach to Homelessness Can Help

Furthermore, many governments still have a Ministry of Social Development or an organization like it that can provide more services to those who require additional resources. Therefore, if governments and NGOs want and need to become involved in reducing homelessness, increasing support to these organizations can be beneficial. Then, governments can encourage reaching out to service groups like the Ministry of Social Development when they see a neighbor or friend in need if they do not have the ability to care for the homeless on their own.

This strategy can also be utilized by more individual, “Western cultures” like the United States. It is unlikely that the approach to homelessness in Jordan would carry over into these cultures. Instead, individualist countries can pump money and resources into their version of the Ministry and Social Development and teach citizens to request aid when they come across a homeless citizen. However, this approach would require breaking the stigma associated with homelessness and the “laziness” that many individualist cultures attribute to this way of life. But the Jordanian method can be altered to fit the needs of each culture in order to see a decrease in homelessness.

Sophia McWilliams
Photo: Pixabay

Homelessness in Dominican RepublicThe Dominican Republic is known for its beautiful beaches, exquisite cuisine and all-inclusive resorts. Tourists can expect to witness beautiful sunsets and take amazing pictures during their stay. What tourists don’t see, however, is the crime, poverty and extreme homelessness in the Dominican Republic — a dark side to this island that must be brought to light.

5 Facts About Homelessness in the Dominican Republic

  1. Many homeless children are subject to violence and abuse. A homeless shelter in Santo Domingo named Niños Del Camino serves children from impoverished families. As of 2009, 77% of these children have experienced domestic violence. Children without a home are left unprotected and subject to abuse from people on the street, in a shelter or anywhere they can find a home.
  2. A significant percentage of children are homeless and need help. The Dominican National Council for Children and Adolescents serves about 19,000 children, out of the 4.7 million children that live in the Dominican Republic. Close to 600,000 children under age 15 lack parental care, and over 1 million children live in poverty. This means that far too many children in the Dominican Republic are homeless, and countless more are suffering from extreme poverty.
  3. Homeless children are referred to as “palomos.” The term comes from the Spanish word for dove, but it also refers to pests and nuisances. This name indicates how little homeless children mean to their country, and how desperately they must fend for themselves on the streets of the Dominican Republic.
  4. Street kids become desperate and turn to crime. When children are abandoned with nowhere to go, it makes sense that they turn to a life of crime. According to AmeriHand, “The longer they stay in the street, the more likely they are to start using and selling drugs, then escalate to armed robbery or other violent crime.” These kids have nothing to lose, so they do whatever they can to earn some money and get off the street.
  5. The National Council for Children and Adolescents is here to help the homeless children of the Dominican Republic. This organization aims to guarantee “the fundamental rights of children and adolescents and [promote] their development,” which includes helping them get off the street and back into their homes. The Council works with the government to increase the accountability of the government for vulnerable children in the Dominican Republic.

Palomos lead a life of sadness and poverty. These children get through difficult times by finding companions on the streets and sticking together. Most of children on the street are homeless for one of two reasons: either they were kicked out or abandoned by their family, or they left on their own accord after enduring horrible circumstances at home. While some children return home, others remain on the streets, subjected to the natural elements, abuse, muggings and other misfortunes. The Dominican Republic must do better for its homeless population, especially its children.

– Kate Estevez
Photo: Flickr

Ways to Improve Intergenerational Poverty
What little we know about the true conditions of poverty in North Korea, or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, is shocking. We hear stories of famine, starvation and an abundance of human rights violations. The true number of those who are homeless is currently unknown due to the secretiveness of the state. However, stories from defectors have researched international ears. High levels of tuberculosis and typhoid are rampant and due to restrictions of food into northern provinces, the situation there is more extreme. However, there are organizations fighting to reach those experiencing homelessness in North Korea and lift them out of poverty.

How North Korea Works

North Korea is known to be a hollow country. The capital city of Pyongyang shows lavish skyscrapers and hotels which are all empty. They are merely a front and not representational of the poverty in the interior. The communist party holds such a grip on the population that there is no freedom for the individual, not even the freedom of your own thought. Thus, those who defy this notion are punished severely. This makes North Korea considered to be one of the biggest human rights abusers on our planet.

Poverty and Homelessness in North Korea

Despite the lack of poverty seen from the surface, go further to the interior and poverty starts to become apparent. The country has suffered for decades from food shortages and famine. In recent years, the sanctions on North Korea are impacting individual households. More people are forced to abandon their elderly or young family members because they have no means to support them. In recent years, the number of homeless people has been decreasing due to the government rounding up these individuals. Where they are sent to is unknown.

Kot-jebi

Homelessness in North Korea affects children as well. The word “Kot-jebi” is Korean for “flowering sparrow” which refers to homeless child beggars who wander the streets outside the capital city of Pyongyang. The reason for their life on the streets varies from the death of the family to the inability for their parents or guardians to care for them and are thus abandoned. Many of them succumb to preventable deaths such as hunger, tuberculosis or typhoid. Usually, you need approval from the government to travel throughout the country, but these children do so at their own leisure, alleviating them from the usual conformity of the North Korean society. These children often steal their own food, skip school and suffer various types of abuses. North Korea offers no national averages on these homeless children and often denies their existence.

Elderly Beggars

In recent years, a new phenomenon of elderly beggars has started popping up. These are elderly individuals who are abandoned by their families or have no children to rely upon and are left homeless. Often times, they are seen as an extra mouth to feed much like the children and are cast out. However, these individuals are usually able to find some work as house servants.

Hope for the Health of Homeless Individuals

Non-governmental organizations (NGO) and institutions desiring to enter North Korea have a difficult time penetrating the government’s watchful eye. The Korean International Foundation for Health and Development has partnered with North Korea to give humanitarian aid to impoverished individuals. Although NGOs have struggled to gain access to the ground in North Korea, the Korean International Foundation for Health and Development was able to work with the North Korean government to deliver relief supplies. This institution specializes in maternal and reproductive health as well as child health in developing countries, primarily North Korea. While the government continues to deny issues surrounding homelessness in North Korea, the existence of those experiencing homelessness and living in poverty cannot be denied. We must continue to support institutions and NGOs such as the Korean International Foundation for Health and Development to deliver aid and relief to those in need in North Korea.

– Kassi Bourne
Photo: Flickr