Treat people with kindnessIn a world often marked by self-interest, few figures stand out as beacons of compassion and change. However, the British singer and songwriter Harry Styles’ commitment to making a positive impact on the world has become as notable as his musical talents. Beyond his artistry, Styles has consistently demonstrated a profound dedication to philanthropy, embodying his personal mantra: “Treat people with kindness.” While Styles has a history of charitable efforts, his recent endeavors underscore the breadth of his commitment to creating a better world.

Responding to Crisis

In April 2020, amidst the global uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Harry Styles unveiled a gesture that resonated deeply with his “Treat people with kindness” ethos. He released a t-shirt featuring the message “Stay Home. Stay Safe. Protect Each Other.” on the front and “This T-shirt fights COVID-19. Treat people with kindness.” on the back. All proceeds from the shirt sales were directed to the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Fund. Styles aptly reminded his fans of the power of human connection during challenging times, urging those who could, to contribute and support the fight against the pandemic.

In that same year, Styles extended his support to the Black Lives Matter Movement, advocating for change and justice. He made significant donations to help post bail for arrested organizers and shared a resounding call to action: “Look inwards, educate yourself and others. LISTEN, READ, SHARE, DONATE and VOTE. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. BLACK LIVES MATTER.”

MusiCares Charity Relief Auctions

In a testament to his belief in the healing power of music, Styles donated a signed Gibson guitar to the MusiCares Charity Relief Auction in 2020, where it became one of the top-selling items at $28,125. MusiCares, a foundation that supports musicians in times of hardship, benefited from the proceeds. Styles’ dedication to fellow artists and the music community echoed his commitment to kindness and solidarity.

Styles continued his support through another MusiCares auction in 2022 by offering another signed guitar, along with a signed copy of his hit song ‘Watermelon Sugar’ and exclusive photos from its music video shoot. Through these contributions, Styles reinforced his dedication to fostering a resilient music industry.

Music as a Catalyst for Change

In 2022, Styles collaborated with Apple Music for a commercial. However, he agreed to participate on the condition that his payment for the ad would be entirely donated to the International Rescue Committee. This organization addresses global humanitarian crises, extending a helping hand to those affected by major conflicts and disasters. Styles’ decision exemplified his conviction that art and compassion should intertwine for the greater good.

Harry Styles’ benevolence extends to the heart of his music — his tour, “Love on Tour,” stands as both a celebration of his artistry and a platform for philanthropic action. Having raised over $6.5 million for various charitable causes, including but not limited to Save the Children, CARE and Rebuild Foundation, the tour serves as a testament to the communal spirit that Styles cultivates among his fans. At his final performance in 2023, Styles expressed gratitude for the atmosphere of togetherness his fans created, reaffirming the transformative power of music and kindness.

Harry Styles’ journey from a chart-topping artist to a champion of compassion exemplifies the potential for celebrities to wield their influence for good. His motto, “Treat people with kindness,” is more than just words — it’s a call to action that he embodies through his charitable efforts. Styles’ recent initiatives, coupled with his consistent past contributions, underscore his belief in the collective strength of humanity. In a world that often craves inspiration, Harry Styles serves as a shining example of how a simple message can spark meaningful change.

– Mari Caitlin Riggles
Photo: Flickr

Humanitarian Aid
Humanitarian aid is vital and often life-saving assistance provided to those most in need. Both humanitarian aid, which is emergency assistance, and development aid, which focuses on the long-term, are key to lifting people out of poverty. The primary motivations behind humanitarianism include the alleviation of suffering, preservation of dignity and the saving of lives. Also, there are four principles that guide humanitarian aid. These include neutrality, humanity, independence and impartiality.

As things stand, traditional forms of humanitarianism have not taken into account the specific needs of aid recipients. As a result, those impacted often do not receive the support that they need. This not only results in a waste of time and resources but can also lead to mistrust of aid organizations among aid recipients. “The support they provide doesn’t help much at all. People don’t want any more rice and lentils. There is no more land to live on. We need better support,” said a community leader in Bangladesh.

With around 274 million people around the world needing humanitarian assistance and protection in 2022, which represents the highest figure in decades, the need for humanitarian reform has never been greater.

How Ground Truth Solutions Envisions Reformed Humanitarian Aid

In 2012, Ground Truth Solutions originated, with a view to reforming the humanitarian system and encouraging humanitarian organizations to implement a needs-based response. Ground Truth envisions “a humanitarian system that fully recognizes the agency of the people it exists to serve, and is responsive to their views, preferences and needs.”

Ground Truth Solutions has developed a methodology that uses feedback from impacted communities to hold accountable humanitarian aid providers. Its aim is to reform the humanitarian system toward a needs-based response, tailored to the specific needs of affected people. Therefore, community feedback is key in terms of designing the humanitarian aid program and ensuring that delivery is efficient and effective.

Ground Truth Solutions identified several problems with the way in which the humanitarian system functions. Aid recipients are unable to participate in decisions that impact humanitarian response, meaning that they are unable to tailor aid to fit their needs. Also, they are often unaware of the source of aid. As a result, the most vulnerable feel that the humanitarian system leaves them out or forgets them due to favoritism, or that they do not receive proper aid due to poor management and opaque decision-making.

One respondent said, “The distribution is unfair. Well-off people are getting support while poor people like us never get anything.” At the same time, humanitarian organizations are touting policies that place “people at the center,” while there are complaints about the lack of transparency.

Effective Needs-based Humanitarian Aid Response

The origin of Ground Truth Solutions was to help those experiencing humanitarian disasters. Designing an effective humanitarian response based on the views and needs of those affected, the organization uses a mixed methodology of polls, interviews and questionnaires to hear directly from the people. Using pre-existing metrics such as the Core Humanitarian Standard, which espouses agreed-upon standards such as participation, effectiveness, agency, trust, respect and information, Ground Truth Solutions ensures that the humanitarian system is representative of the needs of those it aims to serve.

The organization also ensures a coordinated response across all levels and works in partnership with humanitarian actors across a variety of themes such as cash-based assistance, climate change adaptation and health.

Ground Truth Solutions has programs across Africa, Asia and Europe, which it tailors to the specific country context. However, broadly, the programs follow the below structure:

  • Analysis of the context and strategic goals of the current humanitarian response.
  • Annual perception surveys, which ask people how they experience and view the humanitarian response.
  • Development of related indicators that are included in response monitoring and evaluation.
  • The quantitative follow-up to analyze findings.
  • Continued dialogue with affected people and humanitarian groups to ensure action is taken based on feedback.
  • Documentation of the process for global advocacy.

Looking Ahead

Ground Truth Solutions has set the ball rolling for the reform of the humanitarian system. However, as Nick van Praag, founder of the organization, has recognized, this is not an overnight process. “Accountability players, like Ground Truth Solutions, have a role but responsibility must be collective and should include all those with the power, resources and operational rationale to make the difference.”

– Ottoline Spearman
Photo: Flickr

Cricket Players
Cricket is one of the world’s most popular sports, with billions across the globe idolizing its stars. As well as their dazzling on-field performances, the charitable contributions of some of the game’s biggest figures have been notable. Here are three examples of cricket players ending poverty.

Sachin Tendulkar

Known as “The God of Cricket,” Tendulkar became arguably the game’s greatest-ever figure due, in part, to his record-breaking international career from 1989 to 2013. However, it is not only Sachin’s cricketing skills that engender awe and admiration. He has been involved in a wide range of charitable causes, especially focusing on supporting those in his native India. The nation has made immense progress in reducing poverty, with 415 million Indians leaving poverty from 2005 to 2020. Nonetheless, in 2019, 137 million Indians were still living in poverty, accounting for a headcount higher than any other country in the world.

In 2013, Tendulkar became UNICEF’s first Goodwill Ambassador for South Asia and has since worked passionately with the organization to improve the health and well-being of children on the subcontinent. In 2016, he led UNICEF’s Swachh Bharat campaign to improve sanitation in India. Sachin championed its objectives to end open defecation and to ensure every Indian had access to a toilet. Also, in 2018, he visited Bhutan to support UNICEF’s hand-washing initiative, meeting with school children and the interim Prime Minister Dasho Tshering Wangchuk.

As well as his work with UNICEF, Tendulkar has also made many personal donations to charitable causes. He donated generously to India’s fight against COVID-19. In total, he contributed 15 million rupees, approximately $185,000. Mission Oxygen, a social enterprise established at the peak of India’s second wave of COVID-19 in April 2021, received a total of 10 million rupees from this donation. The social enterprise provided 5,224 medical-grade oxygen contributors to more than 370 medical institutions in India, helped set up 37 oxygen generation plants and donated 55,000 oximeters that facilitated the monitoring of the COVID-19 status of 6 million people.

His personal foundation, The Sachin Tendulkar Foundation, funds organizations that improve the access Indian children have to education, health care and sport. One such organization is Apnalaya, a nonprofit that provides basic services to the urban poor of Sachin’s hometown of Mumbai, which has a large slum population. Via Apnalaya, The Sachin Tendulkar Foundation sponsors the education of 200 less-privileged children in Mumbai every year, helping them to break free from the limitations of deprivation and poverty.

Virat Kohli

Virat Kohli, India’s cricketing icon of the modern era, holds immense influence in the fight against poverty. With more than 245 million followers on Instagram, he stands as a leading figure among cricket players dedicated to this cause. Following in the footsteps of his predecessor, Tendulkar, Kohli exhibits a steadfast commitment to uplifting fellow Indians living in the most challenging circumstances.

In 2013, Kohli established the Virat Kohli Foundation (VKF), an organization dedicated to assisting those enduring extreme poverty. Through a partnership with the Raah Foundation, VKF focuses on delivering health care services to malnourished tribal children across India. Notably, tribal communities constitute the country’s most deprived group, with an estimated 5 million tribal children suffering from chronic undernourishment, as UNICEF highlighted.

In 2020, VKF launched Project Nutrition for Transformation, an initiative aimed at combating malnutrition among tribal children. This project successfully provided a year-long nutritional food supply to 5,000 malnourished tribal children across 103 health centers in the Maharashtra region. As a result, there was an increase in the number of tribal children attending regional health centers, empowering them to improve their overall well-being and livelihood prospects.

In a philanthropic endeavor, Kohli organized a charity dinner in 2016 to raise funds for The Smile Foundation. Since its establishment in 2002, the Smile Foundation has been actively working to uplift underprivileged children in India by implementing educational, health care and female empowerment programs. Notably, their livelihood programs equip young underprivileged Indians with vital employment skills, providing them with opportunities to uplift themselves and their families from poverty. These programs also prioritize female empowerment, as 71% of the 75,000 children trained are girls. Furthermore, Kohli made personal donations to support suffering Indians.

In 2020, he and his wife Anushka Sharm together donated an undisclosed amount to the PM Cares Fund and the Maharashtra Chief Minister’s Relief Fund to assist the victims of COVID-19.

Ben Stokes

Ben Stokes, England’s current captain, has also contributed to a range of charitable causes, both at home and around the world. During England’s most recent tour of Pakistan in 2022, he pledged his entire wage package of £45,000. This was to help the people suffering from the impacts of the country’s devastating floods. According to reports, more than 20.6 million people in Pakistan still require humanitarian assistance. In his announcement, Stokes said that “The game has given me a lot in my life and I feel it’s only right to give something back that goes far beyond cricket.”

Stokes is a supporter of the British Asian Trust, a charity that aims to eliminate poverty, injustice and inequality in South Asia. King Charles III and a group of British Asian business leaders formed the trust in 2007. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the trust launched an emergency appeal and provided life-saving aid to more than 135,000 Indians, including essential items such as vegetables, flour, pulses and essential oils.

Stokes has contributed to the Trust’s efforts to eradicate child labor in Jaipur, India, where the organization collaborates with local authorities to enhance educational opportunities. In Britain, he has been involved in supporting the victims of COVID-19. In 2020, Stokes was part of the England Cricket Team that together donated £500,000 of their wages to the fight against COVID-19. Later in the year, he ran a half-marathon to fundraise for the National Health Service (NHS) and the charity Chance to Shine, which provides underprivileged communities in the U.K. access to cricket.

What is Next?

These three cricket players ending poverty are some of the greatest the game has ever seen. Yet, even more impressive than their sporting prowess are the examples they are setting for other privileged people by participating in humanitarian work. Such actions by these cricket players and others could encourage more participation in the fight against poverty, and in effect, create a poverty-free world.

– Henry Jones
Photo: Flickr

The Millennium Challenge Corporation
The United States has many agencies of humanitarian assistance and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) stands as one of them. The MCC is “an innovative and independent U.S. foreign assistance agency that is helping lead the fight against global poverty.” Founded by the United States Congress in 2004, the agency focuses on a country’s policies and results. This agency aims to strengthen the institutions and economies of developing nations that already show signs of good governance. The MCC is uniquely selective in delivering aid by choosing to aid nations that have existing yet fragile institutions to promote democracy and competent governance.


The agency measures a nation’s eligibility to receive aid from the Millennium Challenge Corporation through 20 different indicators based on different political freedoms, civil liberties, economic freedoms and economic conditions. A nation is eligible to receive aid if it passes 10 out of 20 of the indicators, passes the “Control of Corruption Indicator” and/or passes either the “Political Rights Indicator” or the “Civil Liberties Indicator.” A nation passes an indicator if it performs better than the median score in the nation’s income group, a score that a particular third party will measure.

The MCC is diverse in its approach to stabilizing developing nations. It generally delivers three types of aid packages: Compacts, Concurrent Compacts for Regional Investments and Threshold Programs. Compacts are large five-year grants to specific grassroots projects targeted at poverty reduction or economic growth that meet MCC’s eligibility standards.

Concurrent Compacts for Regional Investments are grants designed to promote trade, economic integration and collaboration between nations.

Threshold Programs help nations that are not quite eligible to receive MCC Compact packages by allowing countries a chance to show their dedication to “democratic governance, economic freedom and investments in their people.”

Comparing USAID and MCC

One of the key differences between the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Millennium Challenge Corporation is that USAID grants aid exclusively on the merits of a proposed project toward some form of a democratic goal. USAID also has programs that have “unrestricted ineligibility” where any nation may receive aid for a particular project.

On the other hand, the Millennium Challenge Corporation has strict standards on different aspects of a nation’s governance to determine whether a program receives a grant. It requires that nations meet certain political and economic standards determined by reputable third-party sources in order to receive aid. The Millennium Challenge Corporation grants are also restricted to five years whereas USAID programs can extend the period of a grant or contract.

While USAID and the Millennium Challenge Corporation have various differences, both collaborate closely in delivering and developing aid programs. For example, the USAID administrator holds a role as a permanent member of the Millennium Challenge Corporations Board of Directors.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation learns from USAID’s decades of technical expertise while USAID also benefits from the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s rigorous economic and political analysis to improve the outcomes of aid programs.

USAID and the Millennium Challenge Corporation both serve important roles in delivering aid to struggling nations. USAID has an emphasis on building up new institutions whereas the Millennium Challenge Corporation has more of an emphasis on strengthening already existing institutions in struggling nations. The goals of these agencies often overlap, leading to large amounts of interagency collaboration.

– Alexander Richter
Photo: Flickr

FTO Designations
Recently, the usefulness of implementing foreign terrorist organization designations (hereafter, FTO designations) has become contested at the highest levels of the United States government. This conflicted stance is evident in the State Department’s 2021 FTO designation of Yemen’s Ansar Allah (aka, Houthis) which it subsequently revoked only a month later.

Furthermore, the former Director of National Intelligence Jim Clapper commented on FTO designations describing them as “symbolic,” elaborating that he could not “think of a case where somehow that [designation] facilitated our ability to track them better.” What is not undergoing debate in FTO designations is their respective impact on humanitarian aid. FTO designations often have the unintended consequence of obstructing the flow of humanitarian aid getting to the people who need it the most.

How FTO Designations Hamper Humanitarian Aid: Mozambique

On March 11, 2021, the State Department designated ASWJ or al-Shabaab (aka, ISIS in Mozambique) as an FTO in consideration of the ongoing widespread violence the group is responsible for in Cabo Delgado province. After this FTO designation, humanitarian aid workers ran into a myriad of new problems with legal, physical and logistical complications. As for the legal ramifications of FTO designations, humanitarian workers can experience long wait times in obtaining their visas for travel. At times, visa delays can take months and can prevent these aid workers who otherwise would be helping out on the ground from providing relief.

As for physical and logistical problems, FTO designations impede communications between humanitarian aid workers and armed groups. This lack of communication between humanitarian aid organizations, Mozambican forces, private military contractors and ASWJ places humanitarian aid workers in more danger. Restricting communications leaves uncertainty with armed groups who may mistakenly identify and attack aid workers seeking safe passage for their personnel and humanitarian supplies.

Although communications between humanitarian organizations and FTO designated groups are not grounds for FTO designation, the “knowing standard” puts relief organizations at high risk of being in the State Department’s crosshairs by mistake. In practice, the risk inherent to the “knowing standard” is that it requires humanitarian organizations to administer dangerous vetting procedures. Armed groups on the ground could interpret the vetting procedures as an indication that these humanitarian organizations are working on behalf of governments the FTO designated groups find hostile.

FTO Designation on the Yemeni Houthis: Revisited

On January 11, 2021, the outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo designated the Houthis as an FTO. However, the State Department revoked this designation shortly after Pompeo left.  Current Secretary of State Antony Blinken advocated removing the FTO designation is that it had “achieved nothing.”

Blinken formally removed the Houthis from the FTO designation list on February 16, 2021. He cited recognition of the appalling humanitarian situation in Yemen.  A coalition of governments and NGOs brought the situation to the State Department’s attention. Specifically, the international community lauded the revocation of the FTO designation as a step forward in the right direction to ensure that crucial humanitarian assistance reaches those who need it most.

However, recently renewed calls have emerged from the Biden administration for designating the Houthis as an FTO once again. This consideration of re-designating the Houthis as an FTO has raised similar concerns to those in 2021. Specifically, Ansar Allah (the Houthis) controls more than a third of Yemeni territory, encompassing nearly 70% of the population. If the Houthis were re-designated an FTO, the flow of humanitarian aid would immediately deteriorate. Additionally concerning are the prospects of a re-designation of the Houthis as an FTO potentially emboldening the group to act with further impunity.

A Coalition

In response to the Biden administration’s calls to re-designate the Houthis as an FTO, a coalition of 20 NGOs including Oxfam, Mercy Corps and International Rescue Committee (IRC), have sent a letter in opposition to this re-designation. The coalition of NGOs maintained that they stood united alongside the Biden administration in its decision in 2021 to remove the Houthis from the FTO designation list. The coalition cited an agreement with the Biden administration’s initial reasoning for removing the designation, as it was worsening a dire humanitarian situation.

In this letter, the coalition has called for the Biden administration to avoid a re-designation to preserve and continue the progress made thus far. A promising development going forward is now the international community at large has a greater understanding of the pitfalls of FTO designations, they can hurt the wrong people and they often do. What is even more promising is that the NGOs are not alone anymore. On February 23, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, alongside eleven other Congresspeople, called on the Biden administration to not pursue a designation because it would have a minimal impact on Houthi leadership and a catastrophic impact on the Yemeni people.

Chester Lankford
Photo: Flickr

Airbnb Bookings in Ukraine
All over the world, people are making Airbnb bookings in Ukraine with no intention of visiting. Instead, the purpose of these bookings is to send Ukrainians direct aid through their Airbnb hostings. It is a social media campaign that took flight at the beginning of March 2022 as one way to help Ukrainians during the war and has proven helpful and effective.

Social Media Account Quentin Quarantino

This campaign first came to be through social media user Tommy Marcus who posts as Quentin Quarantino, a popular meme account known on Instagram as @quentin.quarantino and as @quentquarantino on Twitter. Marcus created a post on March 2, 2022, urging his followers to help Ukrainians by making Airbnb reservations for stays in Ukrainian cities.

The campaign quickly took flight as many people wanted to help Ukrainians but felt uncertain about donating through charities and nonprofit organizations. People feared that the money donated to these organizations could potentially take too long to reach Ukrainians and many were dubious about how much of that money would actually go to Ukrainians. So, when Marcus suggested an alternative option, many rushed to join the social media campaign.

In the first 24 hours, hundreds of global citizens had made Airbnb bookings in Ukraine “as a way to send immediate assistance to people in hard-hit areas.” Additionally, with those numbers rising rapidly, the social media campaign soon caught the attention of Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky, who retweeted @quentquarantino’s message with the comment: “People are booking Airbnbs in Ukraine they don’t intend to stay in just to help Hosts.”

Chesky’s retweet received replies both supporting the social media campaign and questioning Airbnb’s involvement. When others questioned whether Airbnb was making a profit from these donations, Chesky replied that the company was not doing so. Meanwhile, when they asked him whether Airbnb would waive fees, he replied with a simple yet firm “Yes.”

How Airbnb Bookings in Ukraine Work

This is a very accessible and effective way to send money directly to Ukrainian citizens. All one needs to do is create an account at, search for stays in Ukrainian cities and book a reservation. Supporters suggest that people make bookings “as close to a check-in date as possible to ensure hosts receive fees quickly” because Airbnb “typically issues a payout about 24 hours after a guest checks in.”

Supporters also urge people to make reservations at accommodations “operated by individuals and not companies” as it is the individuals who will likely be in a more immediate need of support. The process is very simple and it is also relatively affordable for most supporters. For example, a search on for stays in Kyiv, Ukraine, for a weekend in April 2022 for one guest will provide “300+ stays” ranging between $20 and $260 for the weekend.

Some of these rates, especially on the lower end of the range, are discounted rates that go as low as $10-$20 per night. The average rate will be $25-$100 per night and the more costly rates will be $110-$130 per night. These wide-ranging rates make reservations a great way for most people to donate to Ukrainians amid the war.

Ukrainian Airbnb Hosts Comment

Media outlets have interviewed several of these Ukrainian Airbnb hosts since the social media campaign began. On March 4, 2022, Volodymyr Bondarenko told CNN that “More than 10 bookings came in today. This was surprising, it’s very supportive at the moment. I told many of my relatives and friends that I plan to use this money to help our people who need it at this time.”

Another host, Ekaterina Martiusheva, spoke to NPR on March 5, 2022, saying the bookings mean a lot to her because “[these days many Ukrainian citizens] do not have any income” and that, unfortunately, Ukrainians “do not have any right to ask [their] country to help [them] because all the country’s resources are for the war and for the victory.” Martiusheva later added: “It’s not just money, it’s the support and encouragement. We get these notes of people who are calling us brave and it does feel great. It’s just amazing, really.”

The Impact

This fast-paced social media campaign has made a great impact in the few weeks since it began. In the first 24 hours, hundreds of global citizens made bookings to lend their support. Forty-eight hours after its start, on March 4, 2022, Airbnb CEO Chesky tweeted saying users booked 61,406 nights in Ukraine, equating to $1.9 million for the hosts.

One week after the campaign’s start, on March 11, 2022, Chesky reported that users booked 434,000 nights and $15 million had reached Ukrainian hosts. Additionally, these numbers have become exponentially larger as the campaign continues. As for Airbnb’s involvement, the company announced on March 4, 2022, that it would waive all fees for “in-country bookings” in Ukraine and Chesky emphasized that the company “will not profit from these charitable bookings.”

More so,, a charity arm of Airbnb, announced on March 31, 2022, that it would be providing cost-free short-term housing to Ukrainian refugees, adding to the worldwide support and aid provided to Ukrainians. Overall, Ukraine notes an “overwhelming response” from supporters and donors helping Ukrainians. Thanks to this social media campaign, thousands of Ukrainians are receiving immediate aid from worldwide supporters amid the war.

– Marcela Agreda L.
Photo: Flickr

Kardashian's Charity Work
The Kardashians are members of one of the most famous celebrity families in the world. Known for their successful businesses and the popular reality TV show “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” their lives of fame, glamour and wealth often distract spectators from the Kardashians’ valuable charitable contributions. Each Kardashian’s charity work exemplifies the organizations and ideals they care for most.

Kim Kardashian’s Charity Work

Kim Kardashian’s charity work includes donating $1 million to the Armenia Fund, which is a humanitarian organization established in 1992 that provides relief to Armenian citizens in need. Overall donations to the fund have contributed to creating schools, highways and medical centers for Armenians. The Armenia Fund has raised more than $100 million for communities in Armenia and Karabakh.

Kim Kardashian also advocates for disaster relief. For example, she answered phones to take donations for the telethon One Voice: Somos Live, organized by Jennifer Lopez, Alex Rodriguez and Marc Anthony in 2017. The television event raised $35 million for victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico in order to rebuild homes and provide families with the funds to recover their losses.

Kendall Jenner’s Charity Work

Kendall Jenner, a world-famous supermodel and Kardashian family member, also helped to reduce global injustice by donating to charity: water. Charity: water, founded in 2006, works with local organizations “to fund water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)” initiatives in rural areas across the globe. The organization monitors projects to ensure that the initiatives it funds to supply water are able to function sustainably for as long as possible. For her 22nd birthday, she asked fans, friends and family to donate to charity: water in place of a birthday gift. She encouraged donations by noting that she herself “made a donation to fund 25 wells in Ethiopia that will bring clean water to 5,000 people.” The birthday campaign raised more than $67,000.

Kylie Jenner’s Charitable Work

Many know Kylie Jenner as a prolific contributor to charities across a wide variety of humanitarian areas. She is an ambassador for Smile Train, which is a charity founded in 1999 that funds surgeries for people, mainly children, with cleft lips and palates around the globe. Smile Train also provides speech therapy, nutrition services, dental and orthodontics procedures and “emotional support” to the children it currently helps. So far, the organization has provided aid to more than 1.5 million children.

In 2016, Kylie gave Smile Train 100% of the proceeds of a special lip kit she sold to the public, totaling almost $500,000. Additionally, in March 2020, she donated $1 million to assist people facing the impacts of the Australian wildfires. In this way, Kylie has attempted to diminish inequality around the world.

Kris Jenner’s Charitable Work

Kris Jenner has public donated to charities like the Ronald McDonald House Charities, raising and donating $3 million to the organization for COVID-19 relief. The Ronald McDonald House (RMDH), founded in 1974, works to provide support to the families of ill or injured children around the world who require medical care. Kris, along with Kim, also visited Haiti after the 2010 earthquake to provide assistance to families in deep need.

Both Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian publicly state that they prefer not to discuss their charity work and donations with the public. Both the sisters have donated to charities but feel it is not appropriate to flaunt their contributions publicly. Each Kardashian’s charity work is unique and reflects the distinct personality of each member.

Outside of the limelight, the Kardashians’ charity work shows their commitment to helping the disadvantaged and contributing to global poverty reduction.

– Rachel Reardon
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

People of ZambiaOften when we think of the sub-Saharan region of Africa, we associate it solely with the conflict and tragedy that has burdened it for the majority of recent history. According to research done in 2019, there were 15 countries from the region involved in armed conflict. In the middle of this, however, lies the country of Zambia, which, contrary to some of its neighboring countries, has managed a peaceful transfer of power to self-rule, and more impressively, has implemented changes to become a democratic republic. Zambia has shown the very best of what united people can accomplish, regardless of the odds. And what is a country if not the very people who comprise it? As such, it is no surprise that a look into Zambian society reveals time and again the stories of unsung heroes who demonstrate unwavering altruism to their people and country.

Silumesii Maboshe – Co-founder of Bongohive

In 2011, Maboshe and his partners founded Bongohive with the objective to elevate the Zambian tech sphere to the next level. The organization functions as an incubator for tech startups throughout Africa but Maboshe has kept his focus on leveraging Bongohive’s operations to advocate and develop the ideas that serve to benefit Zambia in a capacity that goes beyond just the economic. “If I have one professional goal, it is the answer to this question. How can software and innovation change Zambia for the better?” Many of the 1300+ tech products that Bongohive has helped develop function to this end, one example being an app that allows constituents to comment on proposed changes in legislation. Beyond the development of products, the organization serves also as an open platform for techies seeking general advice and hosts dozens of events annually that pertain to technology and business within Zambian society. Maboshe understands that if Zambia is to realize a brighter future it must include a thriving tech culture. The invaluable role Bongohive is playing to that end cannot be overstated.

Christopher Malambo – Sanitation Activist

It is an issue that most are too uncomfortable to actively advocate for, but the fact is that approximately 90% of child deaths are attributed to poor sanitation and the spread of disease that is a result thereof. Additionally, the World Bank reports an annual monetary loss to the African continent of $5.5 billion as a result of poor sanitation. Malambo’s efforts directly combat these staggering statistics. The focus of his activism is toward the decreasing but still prevalent number of communities in Zambia that still practice open defecation. His first objective when entering a new village is education because many of the typical residents lack even a basic understanding of the importance of good sanitation and the adverse effects of a lack thereof. After demonstrating the danger inherent in open defecation, he then organizes and assists in the digging of latrines. Malambo’s unwavering selflessness and commitment to service in the name of saving lives represents the very best of what makes the people of Zambia truly remarkable.

Dorothy Phiri – Founder of Mercy Ministries

In 1996, Phiri founded Mercy Ministries in response to a higher calling. Today the organization works to provide education through the Chifundo Community School, which was the first project started by the Phiri’s. The organization especially focuses on orphans, disabled children and other vulnerable children who are unable to have their needs met by government-funded schooling. Additionally, Phiri provides a means for children of financially struggling families to attend school. Though Zambia does provide free schooling to all its residents, many families still struggle to fund basic schooling needs such as books and uniforms. In a region where the demands of maintaining a livelihood are prioritized over education, Phiri’s commitment to the people of Zambia aims to change the status quo.

These individuals and their stories are but a microcosm of the exceptionalism that defines the people of Zambia. With the efforts of Zambia’s exceptional people, the narrative of the entire region can begin to change for the better.

– Christian Montemayor
Photo: Flickr

IVolunteer International
IVolunteer International is an online platform that mobilizes volunteers to local projects and exposes thousands to volunteerism. The nonprofit powers mostly grassroots movements and connects them to volunteers in their local area in real-time. The co-founder, Nipuna Ambanpola, envisions a world of 7 billion volunteers. By addressing barriers for volunteers and digitalizing the process, the organization is simplifying the process of volunteering. IVolunteer International is reimagining the future of volunteerism and creating a space for volunteers to unite across the globe.

The Borgen Project spoke to Nipuna Ambanpola, the executive director of IVolunteer International. Ambanpola was born and raised in Sri Lanka and moved to the United States as an international student in 2015. During his time as a student, Ambanpola searched for volunteer opportunities and found many obstacles to the simple act of volunteering. The creation of IVolunteer International stemmed from a basic question: “what are the barriers of volunteerism?” Since its creation, IVolunteer International has mobilized more than 6,000 volunteers worldwide and promoted volunteerism to more than 200,000 people.

The Reasons 7 Billion Volunteers Do Not Exist

In the process of creating IVolunteer International, Ambanpola and his team spoke to individuals worldwide about the difficulties of volunteering. Ambanpola finds that four main problems exist that deter people from volunteering. First, devoting time to volunteering is a challenge for people who already have commitments to other tasks. People occupied with jobs, children or other obligations do not have the spare time to attend weekly meetings or volunteer projects.

Second, volunteering has a financial obligation from transportation costs to membership fees. Financial well-being is a privilege that can permit or prevent someone from volunteering.

Third, there is no single user-friendly platform to find volunteer projects. And fourth, organizations that rely on volunteers often have a finite group. To generate 7 billion volunteers, organizations must find the potential of every community member to participate.

Without time, finances, listings and open groups, there is a low likelihood that people will devote their efforts to volunteering. IVolunteer International compiles the needs of volunteers and addresses these complications. Ambanpola describes IVolunteer International’s solutions to volunteerism as a combination of “a mobile app, projects to raise awareness and mobilizing local activists.” A future mobile app will include real-time access to volunteer efforts in a user’s local area. Currently, the website offers location-based and virtual volunteer projects that it categorizes by project focus. From alliances with grassroots movements to United Nations service projects, the volunteer opportunities appeal to a sizeable audience.

Initiatives: #BirthdayDeed and IVolunteer Series

To create action and awareness for volunteerism, IVolunteer International promotes inspiring initiatives in its campaign. As part of the action campaign, IVolunteer International encourages users to register for #BirthdayDeed. People sign up and pledge to do one act of service on their birthdays. A week before an individual’s birthday, IVolunteer International sends an automated email with personalized volunteer opportunities. Whether writing a letter to a loved one or participating in a beach cleanup, this campaign is spreading positive change. By simply involving people on their birthdays, this initiative can be a catalyst for people to realize the importance of volunteering.

The IVolunteer Series is part of an awareness campaign that brings attention to volunteerism. The series spotlights individuals that share their personal experiences with grassroots movements, finding a passion for volunteerism and other social impacts. The goal of the IVolunteer Series is to show relatable stories that can motivate people to start their volunteer journey. The interviews range from presentations on eradicating college hunger to finding a passion for volunteering in a new city. This initiative spreads awareness of activism and generates interest from potential volunteers.

How Volunteering Unites the World

Volunteering is a worldwide effort to better communities and uplift those in need. The benefits of fulfillment and connection are the main reasons that many choose to volunteer. Volunteering can strengthen ties and create an investment in the future of a community. When Ambanpola moved from Sri Lanka to the United States, he formed a network and community with those he met while volunteering. As Ambanpola found, participating in local activism can increase connections and provide insight and awareness for local issues. The generosity of volunteers worldwide shows that volunteerism has a personal gain at stake. From combating depression to finding a support system or fulfilling a purpose and avoiding loneliness, any number of reasons can inspire people to find the benefits of volunteer work.

A New Era of Volunteers

With technology increasing at an exponential rate, volunteer organizations are utilizing new methods of communication and outreach. The future of IVolunteer International is a mobile app that serves both volunteers and nonprofit organizations. An app stands as a user-friendly and convenient way to link organizations or individuals to passionate volunteers. The user will submit their location and be able to immediately connect to real-time projects happening near them. These projects can be low-level commitments to encourage more individuals to participate. Organizations and individuals can find volunteers by simply submitting a project and each party will benefit from the streamlined process.

Since technology provides vast amounts of data, a long-term goal of IVolunteer International is to compile data about volunteerism. The data will be available to the public as well as governments, organizations and agencies to give insight into who volunteers in their community. Also, statistics will be a meaningful way to attract certain populations to projects they would find interest in. IVolunteer International proves that technology provides the tools for change. The organization continues to empower local communities to find solutions and is contributing to a new era of digital volunteerism.

– Eva Pound
Photo: Courtesy of Nipuna Ambanpola

Ikea’s Second-Hand Furniture
Starting November 27, 2020, Swedish furniture giant IKEA will start its unique buy-back scheme. The idea is to allow customers to return IKEA products, receive a voucher in return for the exchange, then resell the furniture pieces at 50% of the original price. Spanning across 27 different countries, IKEA is trying to take a stand against the excessive consumption trends that Black Friday promotes. This scheme displays a prime example of how IKEA has increasingly involved itself in the humanitarian sector, and actively fights against environmental challenges, poverty and unsustainable living practices. IKEA’s second-hand furniture store initiative is just one example of these efforts.

How IKEA’s Second-Hand Furniture Store Initiative Works

IKEA plans on taking back unmodified, clean upholstery products. It will then resell these products in the AS-IS department or it will recycle them if it deems them unsellable. In late 2020, IKEA’s first entirely second-hand furniture opened in Eskilstuna, Sweden; the overarching purpose of the buy-back scheme and the second-hand store in Sweden is to push toward the company’s goal of becoming a completely circular and climate-positive business by 2030. Not only do these initiatives help the environment, but they also benefit people around the world in poverty. The staggering price drop on repurposed furniture will greatly benefit those who typically could not afford furniture pieces. Considering the great range of this global initiative, lower socioeconomic classes will greatly benefit from this second-hand furniture scheme.

IKEA’s Humanitarian Work

IKEA has been gradually increasing its presence in the humanitarian sector, from its support of organizations such as UNICEF and Save the Children to the opening of its own advocacy humanitarian organization called the IKEA Foundation. Grounded in the IKEA Foundation Ethical Framework, the company prioritizes cost-consciousness, responsibility, leadership, renewability and caring for people and the planet. The IKEA Foundation strongly supports many causes, such as:

  • The Environment: IKEA is calling on governments, corporations and philanthropic groups to help reverse the damage that people have done to the environment.
  • Agricultural Livelihoods: IKEA values planet-positive approaches to agriculture that regenerates resources, enhances biodiversity and improves farmers’ incomes.
  • Renewable Energy: IKEA invests in renewable energy programs in parts of Africa and Asia that center their work around people living in poverty.
  • Special Initiatives & Emergency Responses: The corporation provides unrestricted emergency funding to its partner organizations in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
  • Employment and Entrepreneurship: IKEA invests in programs that aid youth, women and refugees who face employment barriers in East Africa and South Asia. It also supports the expansion of existing and growing businesses.

Preventing Child Labor

One particularly inspiring cause of the IKEA Foundation is to eliminate and prevent child labor across the world. The IKEA Foundation contributed to the efforts of Save the Children and UNICEF to reach children in 25,000 villages in Pakistan and India, and as a result, was able to help 16 million at-risk children in 2017. Another example of IKEA’s passion for helping the less fortunate was in 2009 when it donated $48 million to UNICEF to promote the survival of India’s most vulnerable populations of women and children. It raised this large sum through an IKEA Social Initiative, which fights for every at-risk child’s right to a healthy childhood and secure education.

IKEA has shown its ability to generate substantial results through its various humanitarian initiatives. With a variety of motivations behind its advocacy actions, ranging from climate sustainability to child poverty, the furniture company has shown that it is using its corporate success to aid in global issues. The buy-back scheme is yet another example of the company utilizing its global presence; while the initiative spans 27 countries, many people of lower socioeconomic classes, as well as the environment, will benefit from IKEA’s second-hand furniture scheme.

– Hope Shourd
Photo: Flickr