Information and stories about nonprofit organizations and NGOs

living conditions in Nicaragua
Nicaragua is a Central American country bordered by Honduras to the North, Panama to the South and the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans to the west and east, respectively. Though Nicaragua has made substantial progress toward ending poverty in recent decades by cutting the national poverty rate from 47.9% in 1997 to 24.9% in 2016, much of the population still lack adequate access to food, education, employment and clean water. Addressing these issues is key to ending poverty and improving the quality of life for Nicaraguan citizens. Here are four NGOs improving living conditions in Nicaragua.

4 NGOs Improving Living Conditions in Nicaragua

  1. SosteNica: SosteNica is a Nicaragua-based NGO that focuses on helping local farmers transition from subsistence farming to agro-entrepreneurship. While subsistence farmers produce the majority of food in Nicaragua, they often lack access to technology, training and opportunities that could allow them to expand their profits and yields. SosteNica recognizes these limitations and helps promote agricultural growth by introducing farmers to crops and practices that allow for year-round harvesting, connecting them to national markets, and providing modest investments to assist in expanding their operations. By helping local farmers, SosteNica increases food access and stimulates local economies, both of which transform living conditions for people in Nicaragua. One success story is local farmer Daniel Rocha, who “used to harvest 20 quintals (2000lbs) and now, with SosteNica’s support, (harvests) 50 to 60 quintals (5,000 – 6,000lbs) per manzana (1.7 acres).”
  2. Educo in Nicaragua: Educo is a global organization that aims to provide educational opportunities for children worldwide, operating in North and South America, Africa, Asia, Europe and Oceania. Commencing its work in Nicaragua in 2004, Educo’s impact is an impressive positive force throughout the country. The organization has been instrumental in advancing education quality in 81 schools and leading projects that improve educational opportunities for more than 11,000 Nicaraguan citizens. While Educo works by training teachers, providing school supplies and expanding the reach of educational institutions, it also focuses on creating a befitting environment for students by providing schools with running water, electricity and overall clean facilities.
  3. El Porvenir: Operating since 1990, El Porvenir is an NGO that seeks to expand access to clean drinking water for the people of Nicaragua. It takes a comprehensive approach in order to fulfill this goal, emphasizing education on safe and sustainable water usage, providing better waste management techniques, working on reforestation efforts and assisting in building wells and irrigation systems. For example, El Porvenir not only helps construct household double pit latrines and community wash stations but also educates locals on the water cycle and environmental sustainability. In its time in Nicaragua, the organization has assisted 649 clean-water projects, constructed 14,311 latrines/toilets and improved living conditions for more than 240,000 Nicaraguans.
  4. Nicaragua Nonprofit Network: One of the more innovative NGOs improving living conditions in Nicaragua is the Nicaragua Nonprofit Network. Among local humanitarian organizations, there is often poor communication. Things like limited online presence, moving from place to place or only operating seasonally can cause organizations to overlap in their efforts or simply work less effectively than they otherwise could. Not only does this limit the opportunity for positive change to occur, but it can also be damaging to communities if organizations implement different strategies or technologies that do not work well together. Because of this, the Nicaragua Nonprofit Network is dedicated to cataloging all humanitarian nonprofits in Nicaragua and facilitating their communication and cooperation. By consolidating information and making it more readily accessible, organizations can more easily collaborate and complete their goals.

Looking Forward

Though recent developments in Nicaragua’s political situation make the fate of these NGOs uncertain, they have still done great work, and will hopefully continue to improve living conditions in Nicaragua.

– Xander Heiple
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Partners in Health Fights Poverty
Poverty is often viewed as the inability of an individual to provide the most basic needs, such as food, water and shelter. There are many causes of poverty – one of the largest causes is due to poor health care. Worldwide, there are approximately 689 million people facing poverty. More than half a billion people face extreme poverty due to poor health care.

In the summer of 1983, Paul Farmer, not yet a medical student, visited Haiti to volunteer at a local hospital, Mirebalais, in the village of Cange. Upon his arrival, Farmer met Ophelia Dahl, an American advocate and another volunteer at the hospital. Although young and inexperienced, both Framer and Dahl recognized Haiti’s dire call for help. Looking back on her initial viewpoint of Haiti, Dahl reported, “If you had gone to Cange in 1983, you did not have to be a social scientist to say, ‘this is terrible.’ There is no option for health care, not enough food, no housing or school, nothing.”

The Creation of Partners in Health

Despite these daunting challenges, Dahl and Framer agreed to advocate for the country’s lack of health care. As Dahl said, “We are going to Cange, where we already know people and where we have each other. Let’s just see what we can do,” according to the Partners in Health Medium article. Thus, Partners in Health began its journey.

Traveling from Haiti to Boston, Farmer recruited more volunteers, expanding the idea of providing free, organized and efficient health care to desperate villages in impoverished countries. Eventual co-founders of Partners in Health – Todd McCormack, Jim Yong Kim and Tom White joined Farmer in Haiti and began to eliminate the presence of HIV and tuberculosis, according to Medium.

Deadly Disease

Viewed as a death sentence, HIV and tuberculosis were rampant in Haiti; however, Farmer and his team discovered that larger, more developed countries were able to cure these diseases and eliminate their presence. A strong correlation between the economy and health care was the cause of the presence of certain diseases in certain populations.

In 1987, Partners in Health officially established itself as an independent, nonprofit organization.

Partners in Health Fights Poverty

After healing thousands of patients in Haiti, Partners in Health looked onward. Farmer sought to develop an international program offering free, comprehensive health care to impoverished countries. In 1994, Partners in Health expanded into Peru, battling the multidrug-resistant tuberculosis epidemic. Through the creation of the MDR-TB treatment program, Peru saw an 80% cure rate and, yet again, inspired by the success, Farmer looked to the rest of the world.

Four years later, Partners in Health developed tuberculosis treatment plans in Russia and launched the HIV Equity Initiative. Today, this initiative provides antiretroviral therapy to HIV-positive patients in Haiti.

Since its establishment, Partners in Health has provided its services to Haiti, Peru, Russia, Rwanda, Lesotho, Malawi, the Navajo Nation, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Sierra Leone and Liberia. Partners in Health fights poverty through the creation of several organizations and programs that support suffering individuals. According to its website, some examples include:

  1. OpenMRS: Partners in Health helped develop a software system designed to keep track of medical records for developing countries electronically. Today, 64 countries and organizations use this program.
  2. Butaro Cancer Center of Excellence: This center opened in 2012 to provide accessible, lifesaving cancer treatment to patients in East Africa. Partners in Health worked with Rwanda’s Ministry of Health to develop this program to treat non-communicable diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and lung disease.
  3. Fruits and Vegetables Prescription Program: This program was mainly targeted toward the Navajo Nation residing in the United States. This program assists families by providing fresh, healthy produce. By using a system of “prescription vouchers,” families facing this issue are able to receive a month’s worth of free fruits and vegetables.
  4. University Hospital (Mirebalais, Haiti): In 2013, Partners in Health opened a 300-bed teaching hospital that provides “high-quality health care and specialized residency programs to train the next generation of clinicians.”
  5. EndTB: Partners in Health created a partnership aimed at expanding global access to treatments for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. The EndTB program focuses on finding “shorter, more effective and less toxic” treatments for tuberculosis. With help from Partners in Health, this organization provides patients in impoverished countries with clinal trials and access to new drugs.
  6. Nightingale Fellowship: This program helps nurses improve patient care by allowing them to participate in the decision-making processes behind Partners in Health. This program provides women leaders with a judgment-free space to process experiences and emotions.
  7. University of Global Health Equity: Partners in Health helped create a university aimed at training new generations of global health leaders by providing a graduate degree in global health delivery. This classroom encourages students to develop solutions to real-world issues, thus equipping them with life-saving skills.

The Future

With these programs, Partners in Health could lift communities out of poverty, as affected individuals are no longer forced to leave their livelihoods and spend their savings on health care. As poverty lessens, these areas are inspired and pass on their benefits to the next generation. Today, an increasing number of individuals from impoverished countries are involved in the aspects of global health care. Communities worldwide are lifting themselves out of poverty because Partners in Health fights poverty and disease around the world.

– Sania Patel
Photo: Flickr

Empowering Children in Turkey
Approximately 5.6 million children under age 15 in Turkey live in poverty. To combat that dire statistic, there are several Turkish non-governmental organizations (NGOs) empowering children in Turkey despite their poverty and their refugee status.

A large percentage of those in poverty are Turkey’s significant Syrian refugee population. With around 3.6 million Syrian refugees, Turkey hosts the world’s largest Syrian refugee population. More than 71% of Syrian refugees live in moderate or extreme poverty. Further, about 50% of  Syrian refugees living in Turkey are under 18 years old.

Luckily, several organizations target these Syrian refugees and other impoverished Turkish children to empower them to succeed in gaining the education, skills and confidence they need to thrive as Turkish adults. Here are overviews of three non-governmental organizations (NGOs) empowering children in Turkey.

Darussafaka Society

Founded in 1863, Darussafaka Society initially sought to provide equal educational opportunities for talented and impoverished Turkish children who had lost their fathers. The Society supports fifth graders through high school seniors who qualify with an entrance exam at Darussafaka schools. In 2012, the Society broadened its mission to include children who lost mothers as well as children who lost their fathers.

The Darussafaka Society provides a full scholarship and board to Darussafaka boarding schools. On top of fully-covered tuition and board, the Darussafaka Society covers the costs of clothing, food and other living accommodations to support qualified students as well as their guardians.

Today, 1,000 children in Turkey benefit from the Darussafaka Society. Darussafaka schools and the Darussafaka Society open doors to a world-class education. Darussafaka alumni include some of Turkey’s renowned mathematicians, artists, entertainers, financiers and government officials. Also, the schools take no state funding, truly reflecting equal opportunity for education.

Lab4Future

In 2020, Telecoms Sans Frontiere launched Lab4Future for Syrian refugee children in Gaziantep. The program offers free workshops on basic digital literacy for students ages 6 to 17. Through the workshops that Labs4Future provided, refugee children gain the basic knowledge to enter schools and acclimated to Turkish society. Each workshop focuses on different skills and opens up more opportunities for the children.

Lab4Future recognizes the trauma and exploitation refugees face; therefore, its approach centers on the well-being and comfort of the children, not only their education. It promotes self-determination and critical thinking while simultaneously offering four workshops: Computing and Internet, Programming and Robotics and Electricity and Fabrication.

The Computing and Internet workshop covers the basic information necessary to use and understand computers and tablets, such as emailing, surfing the internet or interpreting fake news. The Programming and Robotics workshop aims to introduce programming in an engaging way. Meanwhile, the Electricity workshop teaches basic principles of circuitry and allows students to apply experiments to real-world situations and the Fabrication workshop provides students access to digital fabrication tools.

Association in Support of Contemporary Living

The Association in Support of Contemporary Living, the third of the featured NGOs empowering children in Turkey, focuses on financial support for quality education. This organization raises money to fund a wide variety of scholarships and grants to support children, youth and university-age adults. During the past 30 years, the Association in Support of Contemporary Living has funded over 37,000 scholarships for university students and almost 90,000 scholarships for girls in secondary school and high school. Importantly, the scholarships for girls support gender equity which, in turn, contributes to eliminating poverty in Turkey.

Beyond direct financial support, the Association in Support of Contemporary Living has built two high schools, six preschools, 32 village schools and one university education center. This is the much-needed educational infrastructure for students in poverty. While the Association for Contemporary Living has created numerous other supports, just these few examples reflect the immense positive impact this organization has on Turkish youth.

Empowering Children in Turkey

Globally, children face the catastrophic consequences of the adult world, and poverty remains one of those catastrophes. In Turkey, poverty for children is a significant issue, especially for refugees fleeing the circumstances of their home countries. Organizations including the three NGOs featured above provide significant support for the children living in poverty. Ultimately, they also support a pathway for students to become more capable individuals in modern society.

Though these NGOs provide essential resources and basic skills to support individuals, the fight to end poverty and improve children’s lives must come with enormous change, such as advocacy for governmental policy changes that further combat poverty and ensure education. However, these three NGOs empowering children in Turkey lay the groundwork to advocate for change and positively impact people’s lives.

– Mikey Redding
Photo: Flickr

Pearl Foundation
The Pearl Foundation is a nonprofit organization based on Christian beliefs. As a humanitarian service, the organization expands its ministry in Nicaragua through assistance in nursing homes, helping find recyclables, providing feeding services and much more.

Why Nicaragua?

Linda and Darrell Hindson started taking mission trips to Nicaragua in 2000. The couple had developed such a bond with the people there that they then set more trips in motion. With the church’s help, the pair founded the Pearl Foundation in 2007, with the ultimate goal being ministry but also improving the lives of the people of Nicaragua.

How the US Provided Aid in Honduras

In an interview with The Borgen Project, Reynel Soto recalled poverty in the mountains of Honduras. He claimed that “Poverty is when people have no money, no houses… That’s what poverty is to me.” He also recalled there not being many job opportunities. The people survived off the land, farming and taking advantage of banana and mango trees. When asked about the United States coming in to help, he said, “Concrete costs a lot of money. The U.S. came in and pour concrete in the floors and built roofs… It made a big difference, yeah.”

The Pearl Foundation understands the need to connect with all of humanity every time a stomach is full, a person learns how to make money despite economic difficulties and someone finds joy in the midst of pain. The organization comprises teams that are working towards reducing poverty by highlighting the value of relationships and personal morals.

Accomplishments

In recent years, the Pearl Foundation has funded Christmas presents for children, fed multitudes of families and individuals, have explored the recycling opportunities at dumps and have educated the public on economic distress on their blog and Facebook, prompting people to donate money. With headquarters in both Granada, Nicaragua and Boiling Springs, South Carolina, the organization gathers numerous volunteers and raises money.

The Impact of Nonprofits

Many nonprofits host fundraisers, ask for donations online and rely on volunteers or interns to maintain necessary resources. The money they obtain may go toward a specific need or advocacy while the rest goes toward expansion. Making decisions to fund infrastructure, feeding programs, shoes and more are essential to encouraging economic growth, making for a better future and quality of life for communities.

Nonprofits take on a responsibility most would not. According to Naomi Camper, nonprofits should participate in the policy-making process to further ensure stable communities as organizations are experienced in financing, resources, communication and marketing. With this knowledge, economies stand a chance at growth, security and mobility.

Foreign Aid Myths Many US Citizens Believe

U.S. citizens have many misconceptions when it comes to foreign aid. Many believe that the U.S. spends around 25% on foreign aid when the reality is 0.1%. To top it off, the myth goes that any aid does not even make a difference. However, there has been a reduction in diseases such as malaria, polio, HIV/AIDS and many other curable or controllable illnesses around the world. In recent years, increased spending on the health of children saved approximately 3.3 million lives.

Many may also think of foreign aid as charity, meaning that the U.S. gets nothing in return. The reality is that the U.S. seriously negotiates what it does with the budget to ensure that it will benefit U.S. citizens. To avoid corruption, many organizations such as USAID keep track of how donor countries use the money, as well as create systematic contracts with government facilities. These precautions keep foreign aid genuine.

Another misconception is that foreign aid is only useful and necessary during war times. However, the likelihood of safety is greater during times of peace, as it reduces the chance of conflict. In the long run, providing stability to those who need it will likely not lead to the need for U.S. military intervention.

The Importance of Economic Growth

Economic growth ensures services for communities, essentially when it comes to improving living standards. Nonprofit organizations have employed approximately 12.3 million people compared to those that other U.S. companies employ. Nonprofits also supply the unemployed with job skills and training to help find them opportunities and take care of elderly parents.

Economic growth can also increase based on the events a nonprofit hosts. For example, an organization can hold a concert as a fundraiser. Many people go shopping to dress up for the occasion, go out to eat before or after, potentially pay for parking and, of course, donate. This brings in tax revenue, giving businesses a reason to stay open.

Bringing Hope to the Hopeless

The Pearl Foundation contributes to job opportunities, tax revenue and peace when aiding the people of Nicaragua. Not only is it about poverty, but the nature of mankind. The organization uses its morals to reach new staff members and volunteers to raise money. It passionately serves people by providing fun and games, food, assistance and knowledge of ways to make a living. Nicaragua is in good hands thanks to the assistance the Pearl Foundation provides.

– Selena Soto
Photo: Flickr

Immunization AgendaAs the 18-month mark of COVID-19 nears, people around the world are eager to return to normalcy. However, according to The New York Times, as of March 2021, more than 75% of all vaccine doses have gone to the wealthiest countries. Meanwhile, organizations are committed to fighting for vaccine equity so that lower-income nations are not overlooked in global vaccination plans for any diseases. The World Health Organization, UNICEF and Gavi, among other partners, launched the Immunization Agenda 2030 on April 26, 2021. The Agenda aims to “maximize the lifesaving impact of vaccines through stronger immunization systems.” This includes securing vaccines for developing countries.

Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP)

Prior to the Immunization Agenda, there was the Global Vaccine Action Plan, spanning from 2011-2020. The ultimate goals of GVAP were providing universal vaccination access and “reducing vaccine-preventable diseases.” Under GVAP, poliovirus types two and three were eradicated and measles incidents decreased by more than 80%. GVAP did not meet all of the goals it intended to, however, it did succeed in laying out a steady framework to proceed with the Immunization Agenda 2030.

The Immunization Agenda 2030 focuses on global participation in improving global vaccine access to reduce the threat of preventable diseases and ensure vaccine equity This requires strengthening healthcare and immunization systems and increasing accessibility. The strategy has primary targets to achieve the goal of saving more than 50 million lives through vaccines.

Targets for 2030

  • Reach at least 90% coverage of core childhood and adolescent vaccines
  • Reduce by 50% the number of children who go entirely unvaccinated
  • “Complete 500 national or subnational introductions of new or under-utilized vaccines — such as those for COVID-19, rotavirus or human papillomavirus (HPV)”

Immunization for Global Development

Since “immunization is the foundation of a healthy, productive population” vaccines contribute to global development. Children who are in full health have better chances of educational success, which contributes to economic prosperity and reduces poverty. Furthermore, preventing diseases means easing the burden on healthcare systems throughout the world.

The Agenda hopes to completely eliminate yellow fever outbreaks by 2026 and “reduce viral hepatitis B deaths by 65% by 2030.” According to the WHO, 47 countries across Africa and Central and South America are most burdened with yellow fever. In 2013 alone, yellow fever is estimated to have killed up to 60,000 people. Additionally, Africa has the highest cases of viral hepatitis in the world. According to WHO global data, in 2015, almost 260 million people had hepatitis B. As these diseases are less prevalent in wealthier countries, the Immunization Agenda calls for accountability to ensure high-income nations are doing their part for global immunizations.

Challenges

Achieving universal vaccine coverage comes with its own challenges. Vaccine hesitancy poses a threat to immunization. Founding partners of the Agenda place an emphasis on the trustworthy spread of information and an increase in health literacy to ensure vaccinations become a social norm. Additionally, the present threat of climate change greatly increases the risk of future pandemics and the spread of infectious diseases, especially via mosquitoes. The Agenda itself is working to limit the “environmental impact of vaccine waste.”

Moving Forward

The Immunization Agenda provides reachable goals to greatly reduce preventable disease deaths. The Agenda is calling for leaders in global health to make their commitments to the Agenda explicit. It also encourages leaders to urgently invest in strengthening their health systems, especially in the wake of COVID-19. The Agenda prompts leading governments and scientists to invest more time into vaccine research and development to strengthen the impact of vaccines and combat global diseases more effectively. Vaccines are the foundation of global health security and the Immunization Agenda 2030 commits to achieving vaccine equity and ensuring vaccines reach the people who need them most.

– Monica Mellon
Photo: Flickr

Roger Federer FoundationRoger Federer is one of the most successful tennis players in the world and a humanitarian with a desire to help the less fortunate. In 2003, the Roger Federer Foundation was created with the aim of shaping a brighter future for underprivileged children in southern Africa and Switzerland. Federer believes that education is the most powerful weapon one can have to escape situations of poverty as it has the power to transform lives and propel people into successful and prosperous environments.

The Roger Federer Foundation

Since its creation, the Foundation invested $52 million on education initiatives in 7,000 kindergartens and elementary schools in order to achieve its mission. Its projects both help get more kids into schools but also help improve the quality of education that children get once they attend school. The Foundation aims to give children control of their destinies, where being born into poverty does not restrict one’s life chances.

Achievements in 2020

Despite an unprecedented global pandemic that sent much of the world into lockdown, the Foundation has had huge successes as documented in the 2020 Roger Federer Foundation Annual Report. As many schools across the world closed, many of the Roger Federer Foundation’s poverty alleviation aims also had to be put on hold as they are closely linked with education. However, the Foundation still managed to create an impact by donating $1 million to support 64,000 children in Africa and their families.

In terms of an impact, the Foundation has seen significant results in 2020. In line with its school readiness strategy, almost 10,000 teachers can now support young students in a manner ideal for their age group. Additionally, almost 90% of preschools and feeder schools have a teacher mentoring program in place to ensure teacher development and improve the quality of education. Furthermore, about 80% of these schools prioritize nutritious meals for the students. A particularly impressive result is that 75% of preprimary school level children have successfully developed in all aspects required for their age group.

Such interventions ensure children in situations of poverty have access to quality education, ensuring that they are ready and equipped to attend school and reap the benefits of education from the very beginning. These are just some of the examples of a very long list of successes of the Roger Federer Foundation in alleviating poverty for children and putting them on track for success. The Foundation has set a goal to introduce the school readiness strategy in six countries in southern Africa and up to 3,000 institutions in each country.

The Future

The Foundation works in line with Sustainable Development Goal 4.2, “Equal access to quality preprimary education.” The organization wants to improve not only children’s school readiness but the readiness of schools as well. The overall goal is to grant more than 1.5 million learners a proper start to their education, early on. Federer shows his commitment even further by using his fame to raise funds for the Foundation. In April 2021, Federer announced that he would be auctioning his personal memorabilia to raise funds for the Foundation to continue its educational efforts. Federer is is an inspiring example of a humanitarian sports star.

Lizzie Alexander
Photo: Flickr

Artsakh War
In the mountainous region between Armenia and Azerbaijan, a conflict has caused many to endure death, injury and poverty. The tension between the two nations has escalated to war, known as the Nagorno-Karabakh War, or the Artsakh War. Many Armenians have fled their homes searching for safety, but still have little or no means to protect themselves. Therefore, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and activists are coming to help and raise awareness.

The Artsakh War

For centuries, the mountainous region of Nagorno-Karabakh has caused tension between Armenians and Azerbaijanis. Artsakh is an important place for the two countries because of religious and strategic reasons. The Soviet Union drew out the borders of Armenia and Azerbaijan. In the late 1980s, the two nations first started the war. Armenians in Artsakh voted to be a part of Armenia, but Azerbaijan refused to accept the results. After 20,000 deaths, Armenians declared victory claiming the region; it called it The Republic of Artsakh. However, the United Nations member states do not recognize the Republic of Artsakh’s sovereign status, and thus, it remains part of Azerbaijan. Nonetheless, ethnic Armenians still claim autonomy, and for the most part, the two countries have been peaceful since the end of the War in 1994.

A New Outbreak

On September 27, 2020, violence erupted again in the region. Azerbaijan began with air and ground attacks on the Nagorno-Karabakh Line of Contact, the border that separated Armenian and Azerbaijani militaries. Consequently, thousands died, got injured or had to flee in search of safety. The Azerbaijani military made advances into Artsakh, eventually seizing Shusha, the second biggest city of Artsakh. Furthermore, the Azerbaijani control of Shusha made Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan quickly agree to a cease-fire agreement with Azerbaijan.

Fears existed that the Azerbaijan military would take over Stepanakert, Artsakh’s capital. The fighting nations drafted the agreement for a ceasefire with Russian oversight to ensure Armenia and Azerbaijan end the Artsakh War, and on November 10, 2020, it was officially over. Azerbaijan still holds full control of Artsakh, and Russia is deploying peacekeepers to ensure a non-violent zone. Many saw the resolution as a victory for Azerbaijan and a defeat for Armenia.

Displaced Armenians

Of the more than 140,000 people that live in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, half experienced displacement because of the Artsakh War. Furthermore, women and children disproportionately had to flee for safety. Around 90% of women and children had to flee their homes and are now in dire need of assistance and help.

Mary Paronyan is an Armenian-American journalist. In an interview with The Borgen Project, she described how her community felt once they heard about the outbreak of violence in their homeland. “I do not wish to see history repeat itself; no Armenian does. The Armenian Genocide was happening all over again in front of our eyes. Seeing clips of Armenians getting beheaded, skinned to death and have their eyes pulled out affected our mental health. We all united as one big patriotic family. Not just me, but every Armenian outside of Armenia has a strong connection to our ancestral land.”

Paronyan, like many of her community, organized, protested and volunteered to raise awareness about the atrocities of the Artsakh War. Moreover, many NGOs immediately mobilized to help those in need.

3 Organizations Helping Armenians

The first NGO that stepped in to help those in need during this challenging time was OneArmenia. The organization supports many projects to elevate Armenian lives, such as employing women of the Artsakh region, helping wounded soldiers and providing nutrition to children who experienced the war. About 388 women have benefited from employment opportunities, 500 children now receive emergency food assistance and 300 veterans will soon get free quality rehabilitation care. Furthermore, OneArmenia has raised nearly $6 million to help fund projects that will positively impact Armenians.

Kooyrigs is another organization on the frontlines providing aid to those the war negatively impacted. Kooyrigs currently runs a grassroots campaign called Looys, or “light,” where it delivers food, medicine and clothing. Moreover, Kooyrigs is also partnering with YES Armenia to provide educational resources for the displaced population.

An NGO providing educational and leadership opportunities to Armenians is the Higher Road Initiative. As soon as the Artsakh War broke out, The Higher Road Initiative began to mobilize help and successfully provided aid to many families. Its Holiday Backpacks project for Artsakh provided over 4,000 backpacks to children who the war displaced. The backpacks contained school supplies, personal care items and clothing.

A Humanitarian Crisis with Hope

Since The Republic of Artsakh does not have international recognition as a nation, others cannot consider its people refugees. Thus, receiving aid and recognition from intergovernmental organizations like the U.N. is difficult. Nonetheless, it is positive that the Armenian Government has tried to make it easier for displaced Artsakh Armenians to integrate. Moreover, NGOs and civilians have taken a more active role to ensure that families are safe and receive proper assistance.

Paronyan states, “we grew during this war. We turned into one big family. Even though some of us didn’t know each other, we would cry for the loss of one another’s family member because we viewed it as our own. We can help one another by spreading kindness. That’s truly all that is needed. Kind actions will bring kindness forth to those who spread it. Life is extremely short.”

– Andy Calderon Lanza
Photo: Flickr

Eliminating Childhood Poverty
Compassion International is a child-advocacy ministry that pairs people with children living in areas of extreme poverty in order to release those children from all of poverty’s aspects. What makes the organization so unique is its strict focus on children, with the hopes of eliminating poverty in their lives by the time they reach adulthood. Its impact has been massive with a high success rate: children in its programs are 75% more likely to become leaders in their communities and 40% more likely to finish secondary education. Moreover, they are more likely to spend thousands of hours in safe programs. The organization that is garnering recent attention from professional athletes has been working toward eliminating childhood poverty for years.

How Compassion International Began

Rev. Everett Swanson founded Compassion International. He was troubled by the masses of war orphans he saw living on the streets in South Korea. Another morning, Rev. Swanson saw city workers throwing rags into the backs of trucks, which turned out to be the frozen bodies of the orphans on the street. When Rev. Swanson returned to the United States, he told people of what he saw and encouraged them to donate so they could sponsor the orphans and work toward eliminating childhood poverty. Within 10 years, Compassion International helped 108 orphanages and homes in South Korea by donating funds to purchase rice and fuel.

Compassion International’s Mission

The nonprofit uses a ministry-based program in order to release children from poverty. This includes helping with child development, which the organization believes will provide the children with the skills to succeed. Compassion International’s programs begin as early as when the child is in the womb, aiming to eradicate poverty from their lives by young adulthood. Primarily, the work it does is through child sponsorship, but it has implemented initiatives that help babies and mothers in order to develop future leaders and meet critical needs as well.

The Fill the Stadium Initiative

Compassion International works with thousands of churches in 25 countries across the globe. One initiative it is running in the United States currently is the Fill the Stadium initiative. Due to COVID-19, 70,000 children and their families who are in Compassion Programs are in extreme poverty. Athletes such as Nick Foles, Kirk Cousins, Case Keenum and Jaccob Slavin have donated and joined the leadership team, encouraging fans to donate if able. The recommended donation amount is $500, around the same price as a game-day experience for a group of four. About $500 provides a year’s worth of essential food, nutritional supplements, hygiene essentials and medical screenings for COVID-19 for a family and their children. So far, the Fill the Stadium Initiative has “filled” 47,587 seats to provide essential care and support for these families in crisis, raising $23 million from athletes and national leaders. Due to COVID-19, a halt to in-person sporting events has occurred. The hope is that the money a family would spend on a game would go toward those in need instead.

Former Quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals and team member for the initiative, Carson Palmer pledged to donate $300,000 and challenged others to match his donation. “This is an incredible opportunity for American families to help children who are in dire straits and truly fighting for their lives,” said Palmer in an interview with Fill the Stadium.

A Look into Compassion International’s Impact

In 2020, Compassion International surpassed $1 billion for the first time in the history of the ministry. That year alone, Compassion International served 2.2 million children across 8,000 frontline partners. Since 1952, the sponsorship programs have impacted the lives of over 4.2 million children.

Because of the work of Compassion International, partners across the world have obtained access to hygiene kits, lifesaving surgeries, academic scholarships, classes, bathrooms, emergency food and water, electricity and countless other life-saving services. The organization will continue to strive toward eliminating childhood poverty, and especially aiding children the pandemic has hit hard.

– Jai Phillips
Photo: Flickr

GiveLight FoundationWhen Alfin Nur was 11 years old, he lost his mother, father and one of his siblings in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Two years later, the GiveLight Foundation found Alfin and began to invest in his life. He studied at a boarding school in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, which GiveLight fully sponsored, while also providing him with love and emotional support. In 2015, he graduated from Al-Azhar University in Cairo.

The GiveLight Foundation

GiveLight Foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides orphans with stability so that they can rise out of the cycle of poverty. Its mission is to build quality homes for these children and support them in receiving proper education that will serve them long-term. It emphasizes raising children in a loving and supportive environment and providing a sense of belonging.

“GiveLight Foundation is one big home for all orphans,” described Fatima Jaber, the founder of the GiveLight Baltimore Chapter, in an interview with The Borgen Project.

The same disaster that destroyed Nur’s family, hit and devastated the hometown of Dian Alyan, in Aceh, Indonesia. The tsunami killed a quarter of a million people overall, leaving many orphans. Alyan decided to build an orphanage called Noordeen Orphanage. A year later, with the help of friends, family and generous donors, the orphanage was housing 50 orphans. Through that, the GiveLight Foundation was founded.

It now has orphanages in many countries including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Morocco, Sri Lanka and Cambodia, providing a loving home for around 1000 children.

The Baltimore Chapter

GiveLight provides opportunities for people to start “chapters” in their own city. The chapters focus on raising funds and sponsoring the orphans of GiveLight. Most of these chapters are located within the United States in cities like Chicago, Southern California, Seattle, Baltimore, New Jersey and Orlando. GiveLight is also beginning to focus on opening chapters internationally. Currently, there is one in South Africa, Paris and Toronto and there are efforts to open chapters in Istanbul, Sydney, Brussels and Dubai, UAE.

Jaber, the founder of the Baltimore Chapter, talked about how she opened up the chapter in Baltimore around three years ago. “I heard Dian Alyan’s story when I lived in California in 2012 and knew I wanted to be involved. After moving to Baltimore and meeting supportive friends and a generous community, I thought it would be great to start a chapter here.”

Raising Funds for Orphanages

The Baltimore Chapter raises funds by hosting galas, game nights, scavenger hunts and walkathons. Soubia Balkhi, one of the other members of the Baltimore Chapter, told The Borgen Project in an interview that the last two galas had been very successful, with the team raising more than $10,000.

Because the cause is so broad, beforehand the team decides which GiveLight project the funds will contribute to. They typically like to focus on where the need is the most for that year. “For example, this year Bangladesh needs it the most and so the money from this year’s fundraiser will go to building an orphanage in Bangladesh,” said Balkhi.

The funds are then sent to the headquarters which has on-site representatives distribute the money specifically where it is needed.

Despite the limits due to COVID-19, the Baltimore Chapter continues to raise funds. Jaber discussed its latest event, taking place next month. “I’m excited to announce our next virtual scavenger hunt event! It is a fun and interactive social event where families can join, create teams and still follow all COVID-19 protocols.”

Empowering Orphans Alleviates Poverty

GiveLight is not a typical orphanage that solely provides children with a place to stay. It ensures that the orphans under its care are given a home and a proper life. The strategy that GiveLight uses allows the orphans to become self-sufficient through education, enabling them to be independent and to be able to give back. This is especially important considering that education is proven to positively contribute to reducing poverty.

Alfin Nur was not the only orphan who was able to graduate due to the opportunities that GiveLight provided for him. Rahmat Mico is now on his way to become a scientist and  Nursawami is a working mother who continuously gives back to GiveLight.

With more time, orphanages, chapters and supporters, GiveLight will be able to broaden its support in the qualitative manner that it has been doing since the very beginning.

– Maryam Tori
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in WalesWales, one of the four scenic countries that comprise the United Kingdom, has 25% of its population facing poverty. Around 200,000 children live in poverty in the country too, with 90,000 of these children enduring extreme poverty. As Wales struggles with poverty on a daily basis and searches for improvement, NGOs in the country are doing their part to combat poverty.

5 NGOs Fighting Poverty in Wales

  1. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation is an independent NGO working to solve poverty in the United Kingdom and Wales. Through research, policy, collaboration and practical solutions, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation aims to inspire action and change inside the United Kingdom. By shining a light on poverty in Wales while offering solutions for potential change, poverty in the country can be clearly addressed and better managed.
  2. The Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD). CAFOD is an international NGO that reaches out to people living in poverty with practical help in the overall pursuit of campaigning for global justice. Through donations, campaigning and calling upon individuals to volunteer in both their local communities and internationally in Wales, CAFOD looks to immediately impact poverty with positive results. CAFOD is also a member of Caritas Internationalis, one of the largest humanitarian, development and social service networks in the world.
  3. The Trussell Trust. This is an NGO that supports a nationwide network of food banks that collectively provides emergency food and support to people locked in poverty. The Trussell Trust handed out 70,393 emergency food parcels from April through September through its 117 food banks that comprise the Welsh network of the NGO. Across the United Kingdom, the Trussel Trust’s network distributed more than 1.2 million emergency food parcels during the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  4. Save the Children. An NGO founded in 1919, Save the Children combats child poverty worldwide with the mission of keeping children safe, healthy and learning. The Wales sector of Save the Children works with education, social care and health partners to deliver a range of programs that directly benefit the lives of children in Wales. Children growing up in poverty in Wales face deep impacts, and as they fall behind in school due to the limited income of their parents, the cycle of poverty continues. Save the Children directly combats this cycle in Wales by advocating to the Welsh government about the importance of childhood education.
  5. The Bevan Foundation. Located directly in Wales, this NGO is on the constant lookout to reduce poverty in the country through innovation and ideas. Working alongside the Joseph Rowntree Foundation to find new solutions to poverty, the Bevan Foundation has presented evidence to the Welsh Parliament’s Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee inquiry on the impact of COVID-19 on communities, poverty and housing. The evidence will be beneficial for implementing anti-poverty strategies in Wales. The Bevan Foundation has also advocated consistently for social security benefits that would alleviate poverty.

The Future of Wales

Wales, facing increasing poverty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, finds its poverty worsening among children in the country more so than among adults. Amid this poverty, organizations are working to address the situation in different ways. With the help of more NGOs, poverty in Wales can reduce as the nation works to address the very core and cycle of it.

– Dylan James
Photo: Flickr