Information and stories about nonprofit organizations and NGOs

Programs in the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a country located in the West Indies where it occupies much of the eastern region of Hispaniola. As of 2020, the nation’s capital Santo Domingo had a population of 2.2 million with the entire country having a population of nearly 11 million people. Poverty has also victimized the Dominican Republic for generations. In fact, the Human Development Index (HDI) has ranked the nation 88 out of 177 countries around the world. With poverty still a widespread issue, more than 20 percent currently resides in shanty cabins. The majority of the Dominican Republic’s citizens have no access to clean drinking water, basic sanitation needs or fluid electricity. Despite these ongoing problems, a major decrease in poverty occurred, reducing from 54.70 percent in 1989 to 19.90 percent in 2016. Poverty relief through nonprofit organizations and education programs in the Dominican Republic has allowed for these results.

Dominican Republic Education and Mentoring

In 1995, a group of students from Dartmouth College traveled to the Dominican Republic. They volunteered at public schools in the small town of Cabarete for one semester. Spearheaded by Donald Rabinovich, his project DREAM, or Dominican Republic Education and Mentoring, became a rapid-fire success as the project began rebuilding the town’s local schools. DREAM focused on rebuilding classrooms, computer labs and libraries, as well as renovating bathrooms. The project soon evolved and planned new programs to offer children opportunities to further improve the Dominican Republic.

DREAM offers innovative education programs by adopting the Montessori learning system for its students to advance their learning ability. The system adopts self-directed activity where students decide how they learn and at what pace through experiential learning. The DREAM program boasted a 93 percent attendance rate for more than 450 students while 3-year olds developed better linguistic, socio-economic, kinesthetic and cognitive skills. Parents participated in weekly meetings to help foster their children’s education through the Montessori system at home.

Food for the Poor

Another of the many programs in the Dominican Republic that are improving living quality is Food for the Poor. The organization has helped alleviate poverty and provide fresh food and clean water to the Dominican Republic since 2000. One way it provides aid is by teaching dozens of families how to plant, grow and harvest fruits and vegetables through its greenhouse projects. On September 12, 2013, the city of Pedro Santana, located near the border east of Haiti, witnessed the building of its eighth greenhouse. This, along with the other seven, helps to increase food security and production in the Dominican Republic. The Church of the Nativity in Virginia provided funding for this project through its Operation Starfish program.

Operation Starfish

Operation Starfish began in 1998 with the aim of allowing families to engage in spiritual reflection and giving back to the less fortunate. The program encourages each family to donate at least 50 cents per day to aid the poor. Father Dick Martin came up with Operation Starfish to help others assist the poor at a minimal level while making a big difference. One year during Lent, more than 2,500 families donated 50 cents per day during the 40 days of Lent, resulting in the collection of over $67,000. This was more money than Fr. Martin initially predicted.

Community Development Projects

The Dominican Republic built almost 3,000 homes through its Community Development Projects. Additionally, the program also helped rebuild schools, clinics and community centers. Moreover, it assisted in building women’s human rights programs that teach independence, self-care and vocational training.

The greenhouse facility in Pedro Santana provides large stocks of produce thanks to efficient farming. The location, operated by local farmers, has performed beyond its expectations. A portion of profits from vegetable sales goes towards the greenhouses in the seven additional locations. Food for the Poor helped create a drip irrigation system that a water reservoir and underground supply lines feed.

With the progress that the Dominican Republic has made through education, mentoring and community rebuilding, the process of downsizing poverty and restoring its youth with innovative methods of developing skills and knowledge is improving the nation. These ways of poverty relief from nonprofits and pedagogical programs have been key factors in giving the Dominican Republic a fighting chance in becoming a future contributor to others in need itself.

– Tom Cintula
Photo: Flickr

The Saroja Foundation“I lost my brother due to paralysis when I was in 5th grade.” These are the words of Sachin Negi, a twenty-year-old college student in India. Currently, 385 million children live in extreme poverty and 25,000 of them die each day due to an illness similar to the one contracted by Negi’s brother. Although Negi was born in a middle-class family, he grew up seeing impoverished people wandering the streets or the sidewalks lining his house. He caught a glimpse of his brother’s pain in the difficulties of these people. They were begging, roaming the streets and scavenging for food. He could not bear it. That’s why he started the Saroja Foundation.

The Saroja Foundation

Sachin Negi spoke with The Borgen Project in early February 2020. Negi established a nonprofit organization named the Saroja Foundation, titled in the honor of his mother. She was a hard-working housewife who has guided Negi in every phase of his life. While many acknowledge that poverty cannot be eradicated completely with a single action, the organization aims to take steps to diminish it bit by bit. Specifically, the foundation visits underdeveloped neighborhoods to distribute textbooks to young children who cannot afford to go to school, helping them recognize their potential.

Though its main objective is to empower the poor with education, the organization also plans to use funds to develop programs at local colleges and other schools in Delhi. It hopes to raise awareness of extreme poverty in the community and beyond. According to the board members, combatting poverty starts with changing the mindset of others and identifying poverty as a crucial issue.

What is at the Crux of Poverty?

“The problem is that the poor and the rich do not help each other. Then, what ends up happening is that the poor stay poor, and the rich stay rich. That is it. Everyone says that they want to help, but they want to show it more than actually do it.” – Sachin Negi

Another reason for poverty and hunger is unemployment, according to Negi. When people are born poor and lack access to education, their background is not competitive enough for jobs. Consequently, they can only operate small businesses such as tea stalls or food corners. Circumstances like these are why 10 percent of the world’s population still lives on less than $1.90 a day in 2020.

Founding the Foundation

Throughout the process of establishing the new foundation in a society where such initiatives are rarely supported, Negi is grateful to receive immense support from his family. Negi’s father noted in the interview, “our youngest son passed away at the tender age of 6 months because of weakness. That, coupled with the death of his other 17-year-old brother, has shaken Negi and developed his passion to help the poverty-stricken. In addition to studying from books, he is always trying to give out books to those people who do not have them.”

Furthermore, his best friend, nineteen-year-old Chetna Rana, serves as the Social Media Manager of the foundation. “She has done more for me than anyone has. She stood by me when my brothers died and helped me set up this foundation when I had almost no one by my side. Chetna was always there to spread the knowledge of our foundation in our respective colleges,” said Negi.

Poverty Through a Different Pair of Eyes

Rana’s approach to the poverty crisis is slightly different. Though she has no specific family background that inspires her to create the foundation, Rana visited several indigent communities to deliver soap during college. She provided sanitation to thousands of children and adults. In her interview with The Borgen Project, she identified that the primary issue rests in the education system.

“Everyone focuses on bookish knowledge and memorization. There is so much of an emphasis on numbers that practical knowledge is never implemented in the curriculum. Usually, the person who reads the book the most scores the highest in the class.” – Chetna Rana

Due to this, students entering the workforce in developing nations are often not cognizant of the impact their actions have on the surrounding environment. As for the poor, there are limited opportunities to obtain such “bookish knowledge” and, thus, a successful career. Talents, such as singing, dancing and digital marketing, are often discouraged, obliging children as young as 4-5 year-olds to work in factories to get one meal a day.

Funding the Future

To help young people realize their passions, the foundation also plans on hosting and organizing several career education programs. However, as a recently-formed organization, the Saroja Foundation is experiencing difficulty in securing funds. All founders are still students, and it costs around 10,000 to 12,000 rupees just to propose to register with the Indian government. Funds are so limited that even creating an official website is not possible. “Many people have the mentality that advocating against poverty is a waste of time. There is only one question on everyone’s minds: “Where is our money going?”

As Negi progresses in his degree in computer science, he hopes that the foundation will receive more donations. The Saroja Foundation intends on creating software that could raise awareness about poverty. It also distributes books to underdeveloped schools and collects old shoes for cobblers who can then repair them for reuse. Negi’s dream is to collaborate with Food Panda, a company that processes online food orders from customers and sends them to partner restaurants for delivery.

“Though I love the service. The issue lies in the fact that if a customer cancels an order after its processing, the food may have already been prepared. Because it is not given to the customer, it just goes into the trash. I want to develop a system to give this unconsumed food to those who cannot afford it,” said Negi.

Anyone Can Make an Impact

The Saroja Foundation would love to interact with other nonprofit organizations both regionally in India and internationally to engage more people toward the cause. Efforts will not be ceasing anytime soon. Interested organizations, as well as individuals, may visit Saroja Foundation’s webpage here. The organization is also active on Instagram and Twitter @sarojafoundation18. As Negi expresses, “The internal happiness I receive as a result of running this foundation cannot be underscored enough. It is the reason why I am here today.”

Gaytri Vasal
Photo: Flickr

Education in Syrian Tent Cities
2020 marks the 10th year of the ongoing conflict in Syria. A war that began with the Arab Spring uprising in 2011, the Syrian Civil War has accounted for over 400,000 deaths and the displacement of more than 12 million people. Amidst this conflict, NGOs are working to expand children’s access to education in Syrian tent cities.

The Crisis in Syria

Fighting between Bashar Al-Assad’s authoritarian regime and Syrian separatist groups increased the prevalence of terrorist organizations. Groups, including ISIS, are using this ongoing conflict to strengthen their power in the region. Caught in the crossfire are innocent civilians. Pushed out of their homes, they have been forced to find refuge elsewhere. Thousands of Syrian refugees are now located in neighboring countries, including Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt.

According to World Vision, a nonprofit dedicated to lifting children out of poverty, over half of Syrian refugees are children. Bombings limit children’s access to education and healthcare, and the devastation is tearing families apart. Consequently, refugees are relying on resources within refugee camps, also known as “tent cities.”

Problems in Syrian Tent Cities

Syrian tent cities are loose constructions of temporary shelters made from the limited resources refugees can find, including boxes, bed sheets, blankets and plastics. With minimal safety precautions, resources and sanitation practices, tent cities are insecure and put refugees at risk.

Additionally, high levels of displacement exacerbate the financial plight of families, especially for children. UNICEF reports that 85 percent of children are living below the poverty line. According to the World Bank, Syrian children have low levels of enrollment and are especially at risk of succumbing to the numerous pressures involved with poverty. However, local NGOs are working to provide quality education in Syrian tent cities.

NGOs Support Education in Syrian Tent Cities

Many NGOs are continuing to expand throughout Syria and neighboring regions to provide educational assistance to children in tent cities.

  1. Nowell’s Mission: In 2014, Nowell Sukkar established Nowell’s Mission, a nonprofit that raises money to provide education to Syrian refugees living in Lebanon and Jordan. Sukkar and volunteers travel to Syrian refugee camps, providing basic education to children, including training in literacy.
  2. Children on the Edge: Another NGO, Children on the Edge, was established in 2000 by UNESCO to work with traumatized children and youth post-conflict in Timor-Leste. In 2004, when Children on the Edge became an independently registered charity, they expanded their support to include a wide range of children’s advocacy work across the world. These projects include building refugee education camps in Lebanon, the country with the largest Syrian refugee population per capita. These education camps have served over 300 children, providing education to children in their own dialect. Subjects include math, science, history, geography and English.
  3. Karam: Karam, the Arabic word for generous, is the name of one NGO, created in 2007. Their mission is to provide support to people across the globe, through education, employment and leadership training. One of their initiatives, operating out of Turkey, raises funds to rebuild schools and to provide Syrian children with opportunities in higher education.

While these are just a few NGOs helping support and rebuild education for Syrian refugee children, they represent the diverse ways children’s education can be improved. Whether it’s funding teachers, building schools or providing access to higher-education opportunities, initiatives to improve education in Syrian tent cities are helping children rebuild after tragedy.

 

With new global humanitarian problems emerging every day, it’s easy to forget the children impacted by sustained crises – like the one in Syria – who are now facing the long-term effects of insufferable war. By raising awareness, we can change the lives of Syrian children and provide them with the education they deserve.

– Aly Hill
Photo: Flickr

Tackling Global Poverty
Through charity and missionary work, five NFL stars are tackling global poverty. Celebrities making substantial contributions to global poverty reduction is a sure-fire inspirational lift. These individuals also provide a refreshing glimpse into how NFL stars give back where it counts.

5 NFL Stars Tackling Global Poverty

  1. Tom Brady has appeared in the previous three Super Bowls and has walked away with six rings out of his nine historic appearances. In addition to these accolades and a Wikipedia page the size of a full-length novel, Tom Brady is accomplishing substantial impact off the football field. Tom Brady has participated in charity work with five different charities: Best Buddies International, Boys & Girls Club, Eastern Congo Initiative, Entertainment Industry Foundation and KaBOOM!. The Best Buddies International nonprofit organization, that Brady founded, dedicates itself to intellectually and developmentally disabled people. Brady works with Best Buddies International and has aided in fundraising of $20 million in the last six years.
  2. Chris Long, former Philadelphia Eagles defensive lineman and two time Super Bowl champion, has teamed with Doug Pitt, the Tanzania Goodwill Ambassador, to create the Waterboys initiative. The two football players have enlisted other players to raise resources and funds for the Waterboys, a clean water project in Tanzania. Long has personally raised over $543,000 for clean water sanitation. The initiative locates remote villages in need of clean water and hires crews to install solar-powered well, which provides clean water. Currently, the Waterboys have funded 83 wells that have impacted 345,000 people.
  3. Kelvin Beachum, an offensive tackle for the New York Jets, has a commitment to ending world hunger through charitable efforts. Beachum has worked with Bread for the World, World Vision and Feeding America. He has even donated his time by traveling to Honduras to aid World Vision. This nonprofit organization has helped over 3.5 million children in nearly 100 countries since 1950.
  4. Nnamdi Asomugha, a former cornerback for the Oakland Raiders, has set new heights by tackling global poverty through charity work. As the founder of the Asomugha Foundation, he established this organization to empower orphans and widows in Nigeria to pursue higher education. The core of the foundation is to bring about the opportunity of higher education to transform impoverished communities. The Asomugha Foundation also provides food, shelter and medicine to victims of poverty and abuse in Nigeria.
  5. Nate Sudfeld is another Super Bowl attending quarterback who knows what it takes to score big off the field. Sudfeld has been making contributions to the nonprofit Assist International. This nonprofit has 500 projects through 65 countries where Sudfeld has traveled to Romania, Africa and several additional countries to aid poverty reduction efforts. Such contributions have impacted people who lead poverty-stricken lives by improving the quality of life.

Five NFL stars are tackling global poverty while creating a powerful impression on the U.S. population. These players continue to make history on and off the field through charity where even the smallest contributions change human lives by reducing global poverty.

– Andre Davis 
Photo: Pixabay

NGOsNon-governmental organizations (NGOs) are nonprofit associations founded by citizens, which function independently of the government. NGOs, also known as civil societies, are organized on “community, national, or international levels” to help developing nations in their humanitarian, health care, educational, social, environmental and social issues. These citizen-run groups perform various services and humanitarian functions by advocating citizen concerns to governments, overlooking policies and encouraging political participation by providing information to the public.

History of Non-Governmental Organizations

Non-governmental organizations started emerging during the 18th century. The Anti-Slavery Society, formed in 1839, is the first international NGO. This organization had a profound impact on society, and it stimulated the founding of many other NGOs since opening its doors. Of note, many civil societies began to form as a result of wars. For example, the Red Cross formed after the Franco-Italian war in the 1860s, Save the Children began after World War I and Oxfam and CARE started after World War II. The term non-governmental organization emerged after the Second World War when the United Nations wanted to differentiate between “intergovernmental specialized agencies and private organizations.”

NGOs engage in many different forms throughout communities in the sense that they are a “complex mishmash of alliances and rivalries.” Some have a charitable status, while others focus on business or environment-related issues. Other non-governmental organizations have religious, political, or other interests concerning a particular issue.

The World Bank identifies two broad types of non-governmental organizations: operational and advocacy.

Operational NGOs

An operational non-governmental organization is a group of citizens that focus on designing and implementing development projects and advocacy. NGOs promote and defend particular causes, and operational NGOs fall into two categories: relief and development-oriented organizations. They are classified on whether or not they “stress service delivery or participation.”

An example of an operational NGO is the International Medicine Corps (IMC) in Afghanistan. The IMC installed a vaccination campaign against measles. They trained about 170 Afghani’s how to vaccinate children between the ages of 6 and 12, and conducted a two-week-long “vaccination campaign.” These efforts assisted 95 percent of children in the capital of Kabul.

Advocacy NGOs

Advocacy non-governmental organizations use lobbying, press work and activist events. This is in order to raise awareness, acceptance and knowledge on the specific cause they are promoting or defending. An example of an advocacy NGO is America’s Development Foundation (ADF). This NGO provides advocacy training and technical assistance in efforts to “increase citizen participation in democratic processes.”

Non-Governmental Organization Funding

Since non-governmental organizations are nonprofit organizations, they rely on membership dues, private donations, the sales of goods and services and grants. These funds cover funding projects, operations, salaries and other overhead costs. NGOs have very large budgets that reach millions, even billions, of dollars because of heavy dependence on government funding.

Another chunk of NGO funding belongs to the individual, private donors. A few of these donors are affluent individuals, such as Ted Turner who donated $1 billion to the United Nations. Most nonprofits, however, depend on multiple small donations from people to raise money.

Overall, non-governmental organizations function to build support for a certain cause whether it is economic, political or social. In addition, NGOs tend to bring people together, especially advocacy NGOs.

– Isabella Gonzalez Montilla
Photo: Pixabay

Inequality in Nigeria

The severe inequality in Nigeria is a giant paradox. As the economy has grown to be the biggest in Africa and one of the fastest-growing in the world, poverty remains rampant. The oil-dependent country harbors the largest population of impoverished people in the world according to the Brookings Institute. As of 2018, 87 million people were living in extreme poverty in Nigeria. A sad reality for a country that, according to the African Development Bank, makes up a whopping 20 percent of the continent’s GDP.

Meanwhile, it would take the richest man in Nigeria, Aliko Dangote, 42 years to spend all of his wealth if he were to spend $1 million every day. According to Oxfam, Dangote earns around 8,000 times more per day than the bottom 10 percent of the population combined spends on basic needs annually. This is a stunning statistic for someone residing in a country ranked 157 out of 189 countries on the U.N. Human Development Index.

The Causes of Poverty

There are a few different factors driving poverty and inequality in Nigeria. Government corruption, greed and cronyism are arguably the biggest:

  • Transparency International ranked Nigeria 144 out of 180 countries on the corruption perception index in 2018.
  • The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission found that from 1960 to 2005 around $20 trillion was stolen from the Nigerian treasury by public officeholders.
  • According to Oxfam, lawmakers in Nigeria make $118,000 annually, one of the highest salaries in the world for public officials.
  • An estimated $2.9 billion is lost in tax revenue annually due to crooked and regressive tax policies, according to Oxfam. An example of these policies is the tax holiday given to companies in the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Project that results in around $3.9 billion in lost tax revenues. On top of this, the fragmented government revenue that is collected is inefficiently managed and unfairly allocated.

It is also worth mentioning that the share of the budget dedicated to public well-being is among the lowest in the region. In 2012, only 6.5 percent of the budget went to education, 3.5 percent went to health care and just 6.7 percent went to social protection. On top of this, around 57 million people lack access to clean water and more than 130 million do not have access to proper sanitation.

Gender Discrimination

Another main factor driving inequality in Nigeria is gender discrimination. Women are at a massive socio-economic disadvantage and Nigeria ranked 125 out of 154 countries on the Global Gender Gap Index in 2015. According to Save the Children Federation, 50 percent of girls aged 15 and older are illiterate. Land ownership and income are two aspects that show major gender inequality in Nigerian culture. For example, according to Oxfam, women make up 60 to 79 percent of the rural labor force but men are still five times as likely to own land, and the non-rural labor force is made up of only 21 percent women.

At the same time, more organizations are taking up the mantle to ensure that tackling gender inequality in Nigeria is more of a priority. For instance, Kudirat Initiative for Democracy or KIND for short, is a nonprofit based in Lagos that focuses on reducing barriers for women’s public participation in social, economic and political development. The initiative also concentrates its efforts on bringing an end to gender-based violence in Nigeria.

Children’s Suffering

Children are hit especially hard by the side effects of inequality in Nigeria. Around 32 percent of school-aged children are out of school and 51 percent are driven to child labor. Every 104 out of 1,000 children die before the age of five. The Save the Children Federation is working hard to alleviate some of the challenges of impoverished children. The nonprofit organization has made some impressive progress in helping Nigerian kids. According to Save the Kids website the foundation has:

  • Protected 296,132 children from harm
  • Supported 186,315 children in times of crisis
  • Provided 5,471,422 children with a healthy start in life
  • Provided 5,266,326 children vital nourishment
  • Supported 296,394 parents to provide for their children’s basic needs

The organization also runs a stabilization center for malnourished children and is working to provide adequate maternal health for Nigerians.

To Be Continued

Inequality in Nigeria is a multi-variant problem. Due to government and economic corruption and gender discrimination, Africa’s largest economy is off-limits for over half of the Nigerian population. Oxfam states that for Nigeria to substantially improve inequality and poverty, public policy, gender inequality and tax policies need a complete transformation. Until then, the good work being done by organizations like Save the Children Federation provide a positive but temporary solution. Confronting the issues and creating real reform from the inside out is the only way to halt the unacceptable poverty and inequality in Nigeria.

– Zach Brown
Photo: Flickr

Nonprofits Started By Children
Charities and foundations all over the world work to eradicate global poverty and hunger. In fact, there are many memorable nonprofits that children started that now have a global reach and a large impact on people in developing countries. These nonprofits are working to break the cycle of poverty.

Caine’s Arcade (Imagination Foundation)

Nirvan Mullick walked into an auto shop one day where he saw 9-year-old Caine Monroy’s cardboard arcade. Mullick was Monroy’s first and only customer and inspired him to continue his project. Mullick then created an 11-minute video about Monroy’s journey and hope for customers. This video sparked international attention and led to a movement in which kids all around the world created cardboard arcades. The Imagination Foundation then formed to foster creativity globally by encouraging kids to take risks. Of the nonprofits started by children, this one has one of the most unique beginnings. 

WE Charity

The WE Charity, formerly Free the Children, is a remarkable nonprofit that a child started. At the age of 12 and in 1995, Craig Kielburger learned of the death of Iqbal Masih, a 12-year-old Pakistani, former-slave and human rights activist. This inspired Kielburger to start the WE Charity with the help of his seventh-grade classmates and brother, Marc. While the Kielburgers originally focused on ending child slavery, they decided to expand their focus to global poverty as a whole. Craig and Marc collaborated to create, Free the Children’s WE Villages, in which poor families received aid with education, clean water and sanitation, health care, food security and finding an alternative income. One can see the impact of this charity in numerous countries. Starting in 2012, the WE Charity helped quadruple primary school attendance rates in Haiti and rehabilitate two wells in Udawad. Additionally, it aided girls in focussing on education rather than walking miles to collect water.

Sole to Soul

After a disastrous fire in a school in Nairobi, Kenya, numerous pictures circulated of Kenyan children walking barefoot in the ruins of their destroyed community. Moved by the conditions in developing countries, sisters Vienna, Hayleigh and Sarah Scott from Nashua, New Hampshire decided to act. The sisters worked to send over nearly 1,200 shoes. The girls developed their charity as they walked door to door in their neighborhood collecting second-hand shoes that were in wearable condition. Taking the project one step further, the young girls ran public stalls in their hometown and successfully raised $33,000. This nonprofit that children started was able to provide shoes to over 1,500 kids in poor countries.

Hoops for Hope

At the age of 9, Austin Gutwein learned about the scarring effects of AIDS in developing countries. He proposed a solution that people would donate money for every successful basket he made while playing basketball. After a few years, Gutwein was able to transform this into an organization that consistently donates 100 percent of its proceedings. This nonprofit started with a child who works to educate people in developing countries about protected sex, as well as provide international relief. For every 500 kids who get together to shoot 500 free throws through Hoops for Hope, 500 kids that HIV/AIDS orphaned, receive representation and help. 

FundaField

The Weiss family was always fond of soccer, especially the kids Garrett, Kyla and Kira. After attending the 2006 World Cup in Germany, the contagious passion that Angolan fans had for their team inspired the Weiss kids. This sparked the FundaField movement, where this nonprofit started working on bringing soccer supplies to children growing up in developing countries. This unique movement uses the therapeutic abilities of team sports, in particular, to rehabilitate regions suffering post-conflict. The Weiss kids not only fund soccer fields and donate supplies but also host soccer tournaments to encourage competitive play.

Young children have creative minds and imaginative reach which enables them to be successful. Their age allows them to ignore any limitations and see with a pure heart. Nonprofits that children start are absolutely unique in their approach and serve as an inspiration for everyone. 

– Haarika Gurivireddygari
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Social Change
Social change is an instance in which people reform the conventions of society. The behavior and attitudes of people determine the direction and significance of change, while the environment or society influence these behaviors. Here are 10 facts about social change.

10 Facts About Social Change

  1. Modernization and Technology: Social change is a combination of many factors. Different events, technologies or people can affect the behavior or norms within society. Modernization and technology have been two of the largest driving forces of social change throughout history. The Industrial Revolution in many countries forced governments to become more liberal as their citizenry became more valuable and leveraged for more rights at work.
  2. Social Order and Coordination: Social norms are central in social order or social coordination. Social norms are informal laws that dictate a group’s or society’s behaviors. A social norm can range from wearing a suit to work or holding the door for someone behind you to voting in the presidential election. Social change does not occur without a significant number of people coming together and changing the traditional behavior within a society.
  3. Social Justice: Social change often looks to change social norms that negatively affect social justice. Social justice is the idea that every aspect of society can achieve justice and equity rather than in only certain cases or for some individuals.
  4. Causes of Social Change: There are different types of social changes. Since social changes are whenever a group changes social behavior and consciousness, many factors can cause such an outcome. War, protests, strikes and nonviolent demonstrations are all ways social change comes about.
  5. Negative Social Change: Social change is not always a positive form of change. An extreme example is the Nazi regime and its persecution of the Jewish population that occurred because of a change to Germany’s social norms. It is up to people to choose which form of change is worth pursuing.
  6. Length of Time to Instigate Social Change: Often change takes place over many generations. The breaking down of social norms requires time to turn new ideas from fringe to conventional. Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela and Gandhi are prominent social figures. These men exemplify the multiple generation struggle, as all of them inherited a society in need of change and utilized the time to achieve social justice.
  7. Importance of Nonprofits: Nonprofits are vital in social change. Nonprofits are often the driver of awareness, bringing solutions to communities affected by a lack of progress. Groups like Oxfam International strive to uplift the poverty-stricken and decrease poverty around the world. By working in more than 90 countries, the organization has affected millions of people. The group looks to provide clean water and food to those without such necessities and diminish the effects of climate change in developing countries. In many of its efforts, it also looks to increase the economic well-being of developing countries to ensure their citizens are provided with enough resources to live and flourish.
  8. Theories About Social Change: Sociologists and anthropologists have studied social change and social norms extensively. These significant studies have led to many different theories of the causes and reasons for social change. Many see Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim and Max Weber as the most influential sociological thinkers, each offering differing theories on the progression of society. All three focused on the division of labor and how that affected social progress. Durkheim argued that with an increase in population, there is more competition for resources. To obtain social harmony as opposed to constant competition, people will look to specialize their skills and find new ways to make a living. Marx also analyzed the division of labor and the effect of work on people and society. Marx, however, believed that people often look to meet their human needs, and are in a constant struggle with the market or their owners of production to obtain financial security to live. Marx believed that life was a constant struggle between classes and that social change emerges from this struggle. While Marx believed that class solidarity would lead to social change, Weber believed that society required a charismatic leader to spark such change. Weber emphasized a transition to rational thought, and because rationality usually comes with collaboration, Weber believed bureaucracy would be essential to change.
  9. Difficulty to Instigate Social Change: Traditions are often difficult to change and violence is a common response to social movements. People in power often do not want to relinquish their power and the traditional system often provides the parameters and rules for those people to rise to that position. As a result, they see a change to the system as a threat to their status. What started as peaceful protests against an extradition bill has turned into months of clashes between protestors in Hong Kong. Pro-democracy activists began protesting in March 2019 against a bill that would extradite citizens of Hong Kong to Beijing. Activists saw this bill as an encroachment on their autonomy and held demonstrations to voice their opposition. After multiple peaceful demonstrations, police responded with force against protestors, and this use of force caused protestors to increase the intensity of their protests. Since the beginning of these protests, there have been constant clashes between protestors and police, including batons, rubber bullets, tear gas and even the shooting of multiple protestors with live rounds. Protestors have attacked businesses and police. Awareness and pressure are powerful deterrents to violence on both sides.
  10. Nonprofits for Peaceful Change: There are groups all around the world working for peaceful change. The Borgen Project is just one among many groups that look to uplift the impoverished and oppressed peoples of the world. Bill Gates, the former CEO of Microsoft, started the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to promote public health around the world. Bill and his wife Melinda look to provide millions around the world with resources and education to live healthily. The Foundation strives to reduce inequities in healthy by providing resources and education to countries with insufficient health care programs.

These 10 facts about social change show that change is constant within society and that with the level of technological advancement, the rate of societal change will only increase. With so many groups working for social justice and their ability to reach more people with their message, the time is right for societies around the world to become more inclusive. Inspired by social justice figures of the past, there has been an emphasis recently on the peaceful pursuit of social change. The number of groups striving for social justice around the world encourages people to live without conflict, without injustice or prejudice and to receive the necessary resources to live a healthy, fulfilling life. With technology as a spark for social change and the technological advances of today, there is the possibility of creating a world where uplifting those in need, even in different countries, is the norm.

– Jared Hynes
Photo: Flickr

Nonprofits That Empower WomenToday, the fight for women’s rights continues to pick up steam. However, many women’s voices around the globe are still not being heard. Fortunately, more organizations are taking up the mantle to ensure that gender equality remains a top priority when it comes to global development. Here are five global nonprofits that empower women.

5 Global Nonprofits That Empower Women

  1. Women for Women International
    Women for Women International, or WfWI, is a nonprofit founded in 1993 working with women from impoverished and war-torn countries. It assisted more than 500,000 women since and is currently situated in Afghanistan, Northern Iraq, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, South Sudan, Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This nonprofit works to give women an opportunity to build a support network for each other and share their experiences while also teaching them new skills and resources to safeguard their futures. WfWI believes in empowering women in four different ways—economic empowerment, social empowerment, sustaining peace and responding to conflict. Outside of programs that relate directly to helping women, WfWI also focuses on “complementary programs” that center around men’s engagement in women’s rights issues, graduate support and community advocacy.
  2. The Malala Fund
    Malala and her father Ziauddin Yousafzai founded the Malala Fund in 2013 to give girls around the world an opportunity to receive a safe and quality education. The fund mainly focused its attention on countries where girls are least likely to have access to this kind of education, specifically in Afghanistan, Brazil, India, Lebanon, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey. This fund targets three specific areas when it comes to ensuring that girls have an opportunity to receive a quality education. These are (i) advocacy, specifically in holding leaders accountable, (ii) investing in educators and those who are also fighting for girls’ education and (iii) giving girls the opportunity to speak for themselves and allowing their voices to be heard.
  3. Global Fund for Women
    Founded in 1987, the Global Fund for Women strives for gender equality and advocates for the rights of women and girls across the globe. It mainly fights for reproductive rights for women, violence prevention and economic fairness. For the Global Fund, women and girls around the world should always feel “strong, safe, powerful and heard.” This group specifically partners with “women-led groups who are courageously fighting for justice in their own communities” which allows these organizations to tackle issues head on. Since its founding, it has worked in 175 countries and contributed to at least 5,000 organizations that have similar values as the Global Fund for Women.
  4. Pathfinder International
    Founded in 1957, Pathfinder International works to improve the sexual and reproductive health of people around the world. While it participates in all aspects of sexual and reproductive health, its main focus is pregnancies and making sure women are aware of all options available to them. Pathfinder International’s mission is to try to lower the rate of women dying from preventable complications with pregnancies, help those infected with HIV and promote proper sexual and reproductive health. It operates under the values of respect, courage, collaboration, innovation and integrity. Pathfinder International is located in 20 countries including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt and Mozambique.
  5. Madre
    Madre is a women’s rights organization that specifically works with smaller organizations fighting for women’s rights in war-torn nations. It focuses on three specific issues. These are gender violence, climate justice and “Just Peace,” which is meant to provide women with an opportunity to recover from the experiences they had and work toward a more peaceful world. In order to work with these three specific causes, Madre uses three strategies—grantmaking, capacity building and legal advocacy. These three strategies bring women into the conversation and allow them the opportunity to enact change, support one another and give them an opportunity to take part in policymaking. Some of the countries Madre reaches include Guatemala, Colombia, Haiti, Nicaragua, Syria, Iraq, Palestine and Kenya.

– Sydney Toy
Photo: Flickr

Oral Health and Poverty
Dental health is a topic that people often forget in discussions of global poverty as other health issues can overshadow it. However, oral health and poverty have a link. Maintaining proper dental health is essential for individuals to stay healthy and out of poverty. Listed below are four ways in which improving individuals’ oral health can help fight global poverty.

4 Connections Between Oral Health and Poverty

  1. There is a close link between poor oral health and malnutrition. This is largely because people who have inadequate nutrition may also have weaker teeth, which are then more prone to decay. The pain of tooth decay and inadequate chewing is often enough to keep many individuals from consuming an adequate amount of food. Individuals who have fewer than three functional molars have even more difficulty consuming food. These individuals have shown a 40 percent reduction in masticatory performance or the ability to chew.
  2. People with chronic dental pain struggle with productivity. As most anyone who has had a toothache can attest to, dental pain can affect one’s ability to focus. In addition to this, the FDI World Dental Federation claims that people miss millions of work or school days each year due to oral afflictions. Untreated dental pain prevents people from being able to learn and earn successfully. This is another way that oral health and poverty connect.
  3. Uncontrolled oral bacteria can cause larger health issues. Without regular oral hygiene measures like brushing and flossing, the mouth, and especially the gums, can build up bacteria that does not just cause tooth decay but is also harmful to the rest of the body. This bacteria can cause endocarditis and pneumonia, as well as pregnancy complications. In short, good oral hygiene can prevent other health conditions from occurring.
  4. Focusing on oral health requires habits that benefit overall wellness. The primary example of this is the reduction of tobacco use. Smoking and chewing tobacco have a number of negative side effects, including crippling tooth decay, gum disease and cancer. In addition to this, most experts estimate that smoking kills more than 8 million individuals annually across the globe. There are also economic consequences to smoking, as evidenced by the staggering economic damage that people can incur as a result of smoking. One can calculate the economic damage by adding up both medical costs and the loss of productivity that smoking causes. The World Bank estimates that this figure is more than $1.4 trillion annually. Everything said, maintaining good oral health can help individuals stay healthy and productive.

Efforts by NGOs to Improve Oral Health

Fortunately, many groups have already begun to respond to this pressing issue. Dental care-centered mission trips and humanitarian outreach programs have long been in effect. Now, other larger organizations are increasingly involving themselves in oral health. For example, the organization Shoulder to Shoulder conducted a 17-year-long effort to craft an oral health program that produced many benefits for the people of Honduras. The program helped many individuals improve their dental health and people considered it to be a great success. UNICEF implemented a similar program that focused on tooth-brushing in the Philippines. This program reached countless schoolchildren in the country.

All of the above reasons demonstrate why improving oral health is crucial for fighting poverty. All said, there is a lot of good work that NGOs are currently doing to help promote oral health education and practices. Oral health is essential to ensure individuals’ overall health as well as their financial security. It is important that the connection between oral health and poverty remains at the forefront of discussions surrounding global health care going forward.

– Molly Power
Photo: Flickr