Education in Peru

Education in Peru is an area in need of improvement, especially for children living in the most vulnerable parts of the country. In 2017, the Peruvian government spent only 3.92 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on education. While this represents an improvement from 10 years prior, with only 2.63 percent of its GDP spent on school improvement, there is a significant disparity between private and public education.

Private schools have a reputation for offering the highest quality education in the country, but only families with deep pockets can afford the high fees. For instance, the Markam College, one of the top bilingual schools in Lima, costs $12,500 for middle school and $8,500 for high school and the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program.

Most middle and lower class Peruvians cannot afford such high school fees. The situation is even worse in the Peruvian Andes and Rainforest regions, where indifference and tremendous cultural and linguistic barriers often hinder children from receiving an education at all. To solve these problems, UNICEF Peru started the Multicultural Bilingual Schools Initiative or “Friendly Schooling” in 2017 to tackle the three main obstacles that Andean and Rainforest students face: isolation, gender inequality and language barriers.

Education in Peru: Isolation

When referring to isolation, in many cases, children have to walk for hours to school. Others may discontinue their education altogether due to family pressures or gender discrimination. That is why Peru’s “Friendly Schooling” works closely with community leaders and parents, keeping them informed of the academic progress of their children. Parents and the rest of the population participate in the children’s education, even taking time to educate new teachers on their culture. “Friendly Schooling” also emphasizes that for the community to develop, education must be a priority.

Education in Peru: Gender Inequality

The 2015 documentary “The School of Silence” shows the desperate situation of girls in Andean schools and the reality that the main role of females in the school environment is to do chores and serve as assistants to their male counterparts. Girls were rarely seen taking on leadership roles and in general, female participation in the classroom was almost nonexistent.

“Friendly Schooling” aims to destigmatize this cultural bias. In this new school environment, both girls and boys equally participate in keeping the classroom clean. However, the most significant contribution is that girls now have the possibility of participating in class elections. Now, thanks to cooperation between teachers and parents to uplift female students, girls are taught that they are equal to their male counterparts.

Education in Peru: Language Barriers

The biggest obstacle to overcome is the language barrier that exists not only between the authorities and the community but also between students and teachers. When the “Friendly Schooling” initiative first started, several schools were selected from three provinces where native languages such as Quechua and Aymara are primarily spoken rather than Spanish. Learning in a language they barely understood caused many female students to forgo continuing their studies. In fact, according to Brookings, “along Peru’s northern Pacific coast, where the Afro-Peruvian population is most heavily concentrated, only 26.9 percent of those girls access education, compared with an average of 42.3 percent for all girls in the same geographic area.”

The point of this bilingual education initiative is not only to teach children in their native tongue but also to ensure adequate training for teachers and the provision of quality materials for students. The program also leverages the use of ICTs in delivering instruction in Spanish and the given native language of children.

Implementation Worldwide

Peru’s “Friendly Schooling” Program can serve as an example for many countries whose native populations are suffering from a lack of educational opportunities. Indigenous communities can become empowered if their culture is formally recognized in their studies.

– Adriana Ruiz and Kim Thelwell
Photo: Flickr

Deforestation and Poverty
Deforestation throughout the world has been increasing over the past decades. Forests contribute to 90 percent of the livelihood of those that live in extreme poverty. Once people cut down and remove these resources, it takes years to replace them, which puts people deeper into poverty. Deforestation and poverty connect because of what the forest can provide for people living in poverty.

Reasons for Deforestation

There are several reasons that deforestation is so much a part of developing nations. One of the most prominent reasons is logging or cutting down trees for processing. While logging does provide temporary relief from poverty once loggers cut down the trees, it takes years for them to grow back.

Indonesia has the worst problem with illegal logging with 80 percent of its logging exports being illegal. Agriculture is necessary for a country to become self-sufficient and rely on itself to feed its people. Hence, to clear land for crops, farmers cut down large sections of forests. Indonesia also has the worst problem with clearing forest for agriculture; the country states that it is necessary to make way for the trees for palm oil, one of its major exports, in order to reduce poverty.

In Brazil, clearing forests to make way for grazing livestock is the reason for deforestation. Brazil is a top beef exporter having exported over $5 billion worth of beef in 2018 and beef is a significant contributor to its economy.

The Benefits and Harm of Deforestation

The three countries that have the most deforestation are Brazil, Peru and Bolivia. These countries all have access to the Amazon rainforest and they use its resources to help alleviate the strain of poverty. Deforestation has devastated all three of these countries, as each has cut down millions of acres of rainforest.

Since 1978, Brazilian loggers, cattle rangers and farmers have cut down 289,000 square miles of rainforest. One of Brazil’s top crops is soybeans that farmers use to feed its growing cattle population. Massive sections of forest require cutting to make way for both soybean production and cattle and this impacts the indigenous people of Brazil the most. Their entire livelihood is dependent on the forest and when the trees disappear, they suffer extreme poverty.

Peru has recently increased its efforts to control deforestation due to mining. Gold is a large part of the economy of Peru along with logging. These efforts have worked for the people of Peru who were able to cut their poverty rate from 48.5 percent to 25.8 percent in less than 10 years. However, experts believe that this relief, while significant, could only be temporary because the rate of deforestation will have a profound impact on climate change that will, in turn, harm the forests and economy of the country.

The GDP per capita of Bolivia is currently at $2559.51. This makes it one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere. To help the poor people of the country, the government has doubled the amount of deforestation that occurs in the country to make way for cattle, agriculture and infrastructure.

With the increase of deforestation, the benefits can seem like relief for those that are deeply immersed in poverty. While these countries’ removal of whole forests can help those living in poor conditions, the help is only temporary and in the long run can harm their well being as much as help. Deforestation and poverty are linked and to save the forests, it is essential to help those living in and around the forests.

Samuel Bostwick
Photo: Flickr

single-use plastics

In December of 2018, Peru‘s Congress passed a national law to significantly discourage and limit the use of plastics. The law was discussed for nearly a year prior to a unanimous vote in support of it. Over the past several years, plastic accumulating in and contaminating water sources has become a global crisis. With 71 percent of the Earth’s surface quickly becoming polluted, Peru’s efforts to do their part in eliminating single-use plastics is a momentous stepping stone in cleaning up the planet.

Peru’s Response

The issue with single-use plastics is that they are virtually everywhere. Their easy accessibility has created nothing short of a man-made disaster. However, companies around the world are coming up with more sustainable options in hopes of remedying the issue and easing the country’s transition away from plastic.

Peru’s Environment Minister Fabiola Munoz explains that they intend to transition to “reusable, biodegradable plastic or others whose degradation does not generate contamination by microplastics.” Peru’s law regulates the consumption of single-use plastics by drastically reducing the production of disposables. Therefore, inevitably forcing consumers to seek out alternatives to plastic, which has an extremely detrimental effect on the environment.

The Devastating Affect on Wildlife

Fish consume an average of 12,000 to 24,000 tons of plastic each year, which can cause intestinal damage and death. This means that larger marine mammals and human seafood eaters who consume the affected fish can become very ill. The South American country is home to 1,500 miles of Pacific coastline is known for its delicacy ceviche. The Environmental Ministry spearheaded the campaign “I don’t want this in my ceviche” in order to get more people on board with reusable bags.

This issue spreads far wider than the ocean; it affects each ecosystem that it comes into contact with. This is not limited to sealife. Birds often ingest or get caught in the plastic. Ingested plastic doesn’t break down in the birds’ stomachs and can lead to death. In addition to ingestion, marine mammals often become entangled large pieces of plastic. In fact, at least 700 species get entangled in plastic waste, some of which are already endangered.

Long-Term Plans

The Environment Ministry estimates that Peru uses 947,000 tons of plastic each year with 75 percent of it being discarded into landfills and only 0.3 percent being recycled properly. With this law, Peru is doing away with common disposable items, such as plastic straws, foam packaging and plastic tableware. It is anticipating getting rid of plastic bags entirely within three years by placing a tax on them. It will also ensure that plastic bottles are at least 15 percent recyclable within the next three years.

Additionally, the country plans to place a limit on the number of plastic products being distributed as well as imported and exported within the country. The Peruvian government also banned tourists from bringing single-use plastics into 76 of the country’s cultural sites, including the historic site and tourist destination, Machu Picchu.

This initiative is just the beginning of a larger movement to undo the damage that humans have done to the plant over generations. Hopefully, other nations across the globe will acknowledge Peru’s efforts and also be inspired to eliminate single-use plastics.

—Joanna Buoniconti
Photo: Pixabay

symphony for peruJuan Diego Flórez is a highly-recognized, award-winning Peruvian tenor, who has sung on the most coveted stages, including Covent Garden and Milan’s La Scala. He is also a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, and in 2011, he started Symphony for Peru. The foundation offers music classes and activities for children in low-income families, giving them a chance to develop their talent, teach them values through the arts and pull them away from at-risk situations.

The Need for Creativity

After struggling in the 80s and 90s with terrorism, hyperinflation and corruption, Peru started recovering and achieving steady economic growth from the beginning of 2005 to 2013. Poverty rates decreased and the stable economy gave Peruvians hope of improving their quality of life. This growth, however, has not been able to translate into proper educational or social development. Although it no longer stands in the last place of the PISA rankings, there is still much work to be done. With this in mind, Flórez stepped in and decided to help in the best way he knew: through music.

Juan Diego Flórez created Symphony for Peru, or Sinfonía por el Perú in Spanish, in 2011 to promote musical education in Peru’s most distant and poorest communities, throughout Coastal, Andean and Amazon regions. Flórez used the structure of the Venezuelan government’s music program as inspiration for Symphony for Peru; José Antonio Abreu created this program, who linked musical skills as a route to improve social and personal development.

Music to Peru’s Ears

Symphony for Peru aims to help children in low-income communities. The organization provides music education not only for children to develop their creative skills, but also to provide a different form of entertainment or hobby, taking them away from the risks of the streets, including drugs, crime and teenage pregnancy, and into the classroom.

As it is spread out throughout the country, the Symphony for Peru created different core groups of around 400 and 600 children who participate in either choirs, orchestras or jazz bands. It also works to have two luthier workshops, where children can practice instrument development by learning how to build and tune their own instruments. Another important aspect of the organization is their main Symphony Orchestra, which performs a couple of times per year and has recently recorded and released its own Christmas album.

Perhaps the most innovative way to show the results of the work Symphony for Peru is doing is by letting the children speak for themselves. Students in the organization can show their improvement and talent with patrons and the general audience in free concerts that Flórez organized. These often happen in July, Peru’s independence month.

An Impact through Music

More than 8,000 children have developed their skills as part of the program, and as a result, perseverance and efficacy at school has improved, as well as their behavior and ability to focus in the classroom. Additionally, the organization has proven to be a useful and more productive way for children to spend their time, and the levels of both psychological and physical abuse in the families of students have drastically decreased.

There is no doubt that Flórez is one of Peru’s most important cultural ambassadors. His talent and work ethic lead him to the top, and music critics compare him to some of the best opera tenors in the world like Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti. His greatest gift, though, may not be his musical talent, but his selflessness and generosity, as well as his will to give back to his country and share his skills with the people who need it the most.

– Luciana Schreier
Photo: Flickr

Malnutrition and Economic Growth in Peru

Globally, 1 in 7 individuals suffers from malnutrition every day.  This problem is illustrated quite clearly in Peru, where 13 percent of children under 5 are chronically malnourished. However, much progress has been made in the past decade to improve this statistic. One organization that has made a positive impact on the situation is the Andean Alliance for Sustainable Development (AASD). Over the past decade, they have established numerous partnerships between both local and international academic institutions, as well as indigenous communities, in order to help conduct valuable research, fund agricultural projects, and establish solidarity programs. These efforts have helped to improve malnutrition and facilitate economic growth in Peru.

The School Greenhouse Project

One of the AASD’s most notable achievements is the creation of The School Greenhouse Project. Co-designed by a cohort of graduate students from around the world and local agricultural experts, the project provides fresh vegetables for school lunches as well as an interactive classroom for students. Providing these resources to young children helps accomplish one of AASD’s main goals, which is to address malnutrition and economic growth in a sustainable and locally-driven way.

Ecological Footprint Farm

Agriculture in Peru’s Sacred Valley has a rich history dating to before the Inca Empire. Unlike agricultural models adopted by the Peruvian Ministry of Agriculture, AASD seeks to establish and capitalize on relationships with local family farms. For example, AASD’s Ecological Footprint Farm is based out of the Nina Family Farm. This partnership aims to tap into the decades of agricultural expertise for high altitude cultivation that the Nina Family have collected. According to the website, The Ecological Footprint Farm “acts as an experimental space for fusing ancient and modern forms of agriculture, a place of communal learning, and a bridge between local and global communities.”

Nutritional Deficiencies and Crop Growth

Living at high elevation poses particular challenges for nutrition. For example, individuals living in the Peruvian highlands have been shown to have significantly more nutrient deficiencies compared to individuals living in regions along the coast of Peru. Specifically, coastal inhabitants have higher protein and vitamin A intakes than their high-altitude brethren. This has led to organizations like AASD to focus the majority of their efforts on improving malnutrition into areas of high elevation. One integral aspect of farming that AASD works to inform individuals living in these areas about is the importance of taking the elevation that they are at into account when growing crops. For instance, potatoes cannot be grown at elevations higher than 12,000 feet, but superfoods like quinoa and canihua can grow at elevations of almost 15,000 feet.

Solidarity Program

In addition to their agricultural programs, AASD also offers a Solidarity Program. This program provides opportunities for youth, high-school and college-aged students to live and work in locations throughout Peru. It teaches these students the basics of international development, as well as the importance of social justice and community development work. For example, in one recent show of the good work that the program helps facilitate, high school students helped to raise $12,000 to build a new greenhouse for the School Greenhouse Project. Through this partnership, AASD completed a tangible project which will have long term positive ramifications for the health of the community while also spreading Andean wisdom to the high school students. This kind of knowledge building is central to AASD’s model for change, as students often depart these programs with an understanding of the importance of sustainable, community-driven projects.

Looking Ahead

While Peru still faces many challenges with regards to malnutrition and economic growth, the Andean Alliance for Sustainable Development has helped establish many important building blocks to ensure that the people of Peru can begin to overcome these challenges. Their agricultural and community-building initiatives have provided an enormous help to millions of Peruvian children, teens, and adults, and as a result, they have helped to spread greater awareness about the problems that Peru faces going forward.

– Sarah Boyer
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Seven Facts About Girls' Education in Peru

Girls’ access to education is a topic that has rightfully garnered a lot of attention in recent years. With organizations such as Girl Rising, which began as a 2013 film documenting girls who faced obstacles in receiving education and has since become a renowned advocacy group, the circumstances prohibiting girls from receiving proper education have come under scrutiny. From societal pressures to financial hardships, there is a variety of reasons as to why millions of girls can’t reach their potential through education.

Like in many countries around the world, girls in Peru are at a disadvantage when it comes to their educational opportunities. While there are girls around the Western South American country who are able to complete primary and even secondary schooling, education beyond that is often not accessible, especially for girls in rural areas. The following seven facts about girls’ education in Peru explain how the girls in Peru are at a disadvantage for their education.

7 Facts about Girls’ Education in Peru

  1. There is a 6 percent gap in literacy rates between genders in Peru. An estimated 97.2 percent of males 15 years and older can read and write, while 91.2 percent of females 15 and older are literate. While this difference is not huge, it is still significant.
  2. With 45 percent, and still rising, of the population under 25 years old, Peru’s education system is faltering. The government is being forced to spend more on education than is allotted in its budget in order to provide free education to children between 6 and 15 years old. While this free education is meant to be mandatory, many students, male and female, are still unable to attend. In fact, only 36 percent of girls in rural areas of Peru end up graduating from secondary school.
  3. Of Peru’s 31 million citizens, 22.7 percent live below the poverty line; that’s more than seven million people in less than liveable conditions. Many families living under the poverty line also live in rural areas, creating more obstacles for girls wanting to go to school. These girls would have to walk to and from school, and in cases where only afternoon classes are offered, many would be forced to stop attending out of fear for their safety.
  4. In 2001, a law improving access to education for girls in rural areas was passed. However, the results have been more surface-level than actually yielding tangible progress. Mainly, the law has resulted in activism on the subject of girls’ education. While more awareness is always helpful, active change in education opportunities is the ultimate goal.
  5. Because Peru’s population is largely made up of young people, there is a disproportionate ratio of students to teachers available to work. These scarce and largely underqualified teachers are unable to provide adequate learning environments to students, let alone give guidance to further propel students’ education opportunities. Some teachers are not even fully versed in the subjects they are meant to be teaching.
  6. Organizations such as Peruvian Hearts are working to make tangible differences. Working directly with Peruvian girls and young women living in rural areas, Peruvian Hearts not only offers quality educational opportunities but also one-on-one guidance and community involvement to create well-rounded young women.
  7. Basing their selection on the girls’ financial needs and display of ambition and willingness to learn, Peruvian Hearts gives their selected girls financial scholarships, college tuition and room and board. Their 100 percent success rate with girls completing secondary school means that more girls can continue their education in college. Additionally, the organization provides the girls with English lessons to further prepare them for higher education.

These seven facts about girls’ education in Peru highlight the setbacks many young girls face regarding their access to education. However, these facts also shed light on the progress made both in legislation and through organizations. Ultimately, despite the obstacles, more girls are slowly gaining the education they deserve.

– Emi Cormier
Photo: Flickr

Frost Season in PeruWhile Peru is known for having a pleasant climate in most regions, this isn’t always the case all year round. In the winter months of the frost season in Peru, a wave of freezing weather strikes the communities in many areas of the Andean region.

These freezing temperatures are not your average winter. In 2010, freezing weather in the Andean South went below -20 Celcius, causing pneumonia and hundreds of deaths — with children being the most impacted demographic. In 2017, a wave of freeze killed around 180,000 alpacas on the farthest areas of Ayacucho, where the people heavily depended on the breeding of alpacas for sustenance. Since the affected regions are in extreme poverty, the people living there do not have enough resources to prevent tragedies such as the ones mentioned above.

Each frost season in Peru brings a new wave of adversity and problems, and unfortunately, it is the most vulnerable people that are the most affected by the weather. However, help comes even during the most troubled times. Here are three initiatives that have helped those affected by frost season in Peru.

3 Initiatives To Helping Those Affected by Frost Season in Peru

  1. Demos Calor a Los Hermanos de Puno- After the southern Andean regions were in a state of emergency in 2010, the Peruvian Radio Program and Solaris Peru Association joined forces to create these campaigns. Their main objective was to collect enough warm clothing and blankets for children between the ages of 1 to 5. The campaign was successful; by the end of 2011, it delivered more than 3.5 tons of apparel and other necessities to the victims.
  2. Peru Frost and Friaje Mitigation Plan- In 2017, with a new frost season approaching, ex-president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski began the Peru Frost and Friaje Mitigation Plan. Their main objective was to take the necessary steps to prevent the fatal damage caused by the frost on the highland regions. The program spent around $30 million to repair damaged infrastructure. The benefits did not only include monetary help but also the delivery of blankets, prefabricated classrooms and provide essential pneumonia vaccines. Small children and the elderly are the most affected during the frost season, so the delivery of pneumonia vaccines saved their lives
  3. Abrigando Esperanzas – The Oli Foundation- The Oli Foundation helps and assists Peru’s most vulnerable sectors. Beginning in 2011, the foundation has successfully managed several initiatives. “Abrigando Esperazas” specifically focused on the victims of the frost season. Their principal goal was the collection of warm blankets and other first-aid necessities and delivering them to the affected zones of the Peruvian Andes in Arequipa, Cerro de Pasco, Cusco, Puno and Tacna. In June 2019, their campaign “Contra el Frio por Los Nuestros,” has the main goal of building 20 warm safehouses in the town of Kusamayo, Puno. These safehouses will help keep vulnerable populations warm during the challenging frost season.

Peruvian frost season is not an easy season to overcome. Luckily there is even more being done to fight against the hardships of the winter. This year, for example, a new type of potato was developed, called Wiñay, that can tolerate freezing temperatures and maintain its nutritional value, making it possible for farmers to produce crops even then the ground is covered in snow. Through the efforts of organizations like the three mentioned above, Peruvians are being given the resources they need to survive and thrive throughout the frost season in Peru.

– Adriana Ruiz
Photo: Flickr

Venezuelan refugees in PeruFor the last decade, Venezuela has seen a severe and damaging economic recession. As of 2018, inflation hit 130,060 percent. There are severe shortages of food and medicine and an increase in crime that has made life in Venezuela a battle for survival. Considering these factors, including President Nicolás Maduro not leaving power anytime soon, many Venezuelans have decided to pack their bags and leave their beloved homeland. In the past four years, approximately 10 percent of the population fled the country. Thankfully, shelters have opened to provide aid for Venezuelan refugees in Peru.

At first, many governments were willing to cooperate, but as more Venezuelans left, many countries established specific immigration requirements, such as having a valid passport. Even though this sounded fair for many, it closed the door to many of these refugees, as the cost of processing one visa is around 7,200 bolívars ($115); that is four times the local minimum wage.

Peru is one of the few nations that kept an open border policy for many years. However, that changed when President Martin Viscarra established that as of June 15, Venezuelans would need a passport and visa to enter Peru. That day, 5,849 people arrived at the border Peruvian border, and while some arrived just in time, others were left behind. These grim situations may make it seem that all hope is lost, but there are still many Peruvians who receive these migrants with open arms. These three shelters have given shelter and hope to Venezuelan refugees in Peru.

Casa Don Bosco

This Lima home directed by Salesian Missionaries takes part in integration projects that help newly arrived Venezuelans adapt to an entirely different culture. While it used to be an old vocational training facility, it now accommodates the needs of the refugees, by providing necessary guidance on finding housing and educating them on their fundamental workers’ rights. Casa Don Bosco also has ties with The Food Bank of Peru, allowing them to feed all the migrants that knock on their doors.

A Power Couple and Their Shelter

In June 2018, Raquel Vásquez and Ernesto Reyes, a married couple, bought an old house in the middle of the Comas district. Their mission was to provide refuge to any Venezuelan refugees that arrived in Lima. Once installed, Venezuelans are allowed to stay for up to one month for free, giving them time to find a job and better housing. Vásquez and Reyes said that opening the shelter was a necessity, especially after seeing all the refugees sleeping on the streets, penniless after spending all their money just to get to Lima. The shelter operates thanks to the couple’s own money and local donations.

Rene Cobeña’s Shelter and Business

The owner of this shelter is textile businessman Rene Cobeña, who bought an old hotel and transformed it into a safe haven. The house not only offers Venezuelans breakfast, lunch and dinner but also operates as a small business, employing the same refugees. Using his money and some donations, Cobeña buys ingredients to make arepas and donuts that the refugees sell. He has also sold some of his textile machines to fund better ingredients and transportation. Thanks to these efforts, the refugees were able to start building their savings, helping themselves and their families, and eventually leave the shelter to begin anew.

These shelters are not on alone in their efforts; despite the lack of legal assistance, the owners and many other Peruvians are giving what they can to help. Venezuelans are escaping one of the most brutal dictatorships of the last century, and all they need is a helping hand through this difficult time as Venezuelan refugees in Peru.

– Adriana Ruiz
Photo: Wikimedia

Technologies For Everyday Tasks in Developing CountriesIn countries with poor economies, there’s often no way for people with low income to get access to essential amenities or conveniences. Whether the lack of electricity, water, or basic information regarding crops and harvest times, problems are widespread and varied. But people continue to find solutions that are simple and affordable when it seems there are no options. Here are some examples of simple, useful technologies for everyday tasks in developing countries and communities.

9 Technologies For Everyday Tasks in Developing Countries

  1. Sproxil provides an online, easy to access verification method for pharmacies and drug sellers. Counterfeit drugs are a big problem in developing countries, with few ways to check for quality. Sproxil works with factories, providing easy to check codes on genuine shipments. A seller can simply verify the code through Sproxil’s app to ensure the quality of delivered drugs.
  2. EthioSIS is an information gathering and mapping system devoted to soil quality. It has mapped out soil quality in several areas in Ethiopia with the intent to provide accurate information to farmers and government officials. This is accomplished using satellite technology.
  3. BRCK is a compact, low cost, durable router. Built by a company operating in Nairobi, there have been several iterations of this technology in order to bring the internet to every corner of the continent. The same company has created Moja, a free wifi platform accessed through a BRCK and the KIO tablet.
  4. An effective solution to a localized problem, UTEC created a billboard that filters and cleans polluted air. Located near its campus in Peru, it stands in an area where air pollution is a constant, extreme problem. The billboard does the work of many trees, many times over, the billboard itself advertises an engineering education.
  5. Of these nine technologies for everyday tasks in developing countries, GravityLight may be the most universally useful. GravityLight is a simple concept for providing light to houses that don’t have electricity. A generator attached to a chain holds weight. The weight winched up on the chain turns the generator as it descends, providing electric power to a small light, usually enough for 20 minutes. Easy to use and re-use, it can be hung from a wall or ceiling anywhere.
  6. The SeabinV5 (version 5) is the brainchild of the Seabin project. This trashcan has a built-in pump, designed to filter out trash from ocean water. The floating SeabinV5 adjusts to oil-absorbing pads and requires easy cleaning.  The electrical cost of maintaining the pump is equivalent to $1 a day.
  7. The Beacon app acts as a search and rescue in local areas. Rescue agencies launch a unique platform, kept up to date about their area of coverage. In areas without a consistent or fast ambulance presence, it can organize and bring together first responders quickly, which is invaluable for smaller communities.
  8. The Hippo Water Roller does not actually take the shape of a hippo. Rather, the water container is cylindrical with a large handle for rolling, either by pushing or pulling. In many smaller communities, getting fresh water often means traveling several miles and carrying it back with a bucket. The Hippo Roller’s ability to transport water easily is invaluable to these communities.
  9. The Bandicoot is a robot designed for sewer cleaning in India. The hazardous waste it is designed to clean and dispose of is very harmful to humans. Also, it takes a human worker two hours to properly clean an area the Bandicoot can cover in forty-five minutes. The robot is so simple to operate and maintain, that those whose job it was previously to clean the sewers can now operate the Bandicoot.

Technologies for everyday tasks in developing countries must be simple, affordable and able to spread easily. These are only a few examples of evolving tech that brings the world closer to ending global poverty. Creative thinking towards a small scale problem can lead to massive changes on a global scale.

– Mason Sansonia
Photo: Flickr

Five Soap Brands that Give BackAccording to the CDC, nearly 2.5 billion people lack access to clean water. Without a sanitation system, diseases can spread at a disastrous rate. Each year, more than 800,000 children die due to the lack of sanitation in communities across the globe. This article focuses on five soap brands that give back to those without access to clean water.

5 Soap Brands that Give Back

  1. Hand in Hand
    After reading a startling statistic about the number of people affected by water-related illnesses, Bill Glaab & Courtney Apple founded Hand in Hand. Together, they partnered with My Neighbor’s Children, a non-profit organization based in Haiti focused on impoverished children. Through this partnership, all of Hand in Hand’s donations go toward these children. In 2013, Hand in Hand opened their first well in Onaville, Haiti, which now serves over 240 families daily. Through their “Buy a bar. Give a bar.” program, Hand in Hand has donated more than 1 million bars of soap. With every bar purchased, Hand in Hand provides a child in need with a bar of soap and a month of clean water.
  2. Pacha Soap Co.
    After a large flood in the Peruvian Andes, most families lost work and communication with the world they once knew. They depended upon the “pacha” or “earth” in Quechua. In 2011, Andrew and Abi founded Pacha Soap Co. with the mission to create a product that would help others as well as the earth. Since then, Pacha Soap Co. has supplied 14 communities with clean water wells, served more than 4,000 people clean water for the first time and have funded eight independent soap shops in Africa. Through all of this hard work, Pacha Soap Co. has donated more than 3.8 million bars of soap to schools in developing counties, provided over 74,000 children with hand-washing education and has created over 250 careers.
  3. Soapbox Soaps
    Founded in 2010 by Dave Simnick, Soapbox Soaps has made it their mission to empower consumers “with the ability to change the world through everyday, simple purchases”. Partnering with the Sundara Fund, a non-profit that recycles soap from hotels, Soapbox Soaps has been able to supply 30 women with a reliable job. With each purchase, Soapbox Soaps donates a bar of soap and proper hygiene education to someone in need. The proceeds also go toward research and development in reducing trachoma infections, an infection in the eye that could lead to blindness. Today, more than 3 million lives have been impacted through Soapbox Soap’s mission and over 6,000 lessons on hygiene have been taught. Soapbox Soaps is just one of the five soap brands that give back and partner with Sundara Fund.
  4. B.A.R.E. Soaps
    Another soap brand that partners with Sundara Fund is B.A.R.E or Bringing Antiseptic Resources to Everyone Soaps. This is a volunteer, all-natural and socially conscious company. All of the profits are either reinvested back into B.A.R.E Soaps or non-profits. In 2012, B.A.R.E Soaps partnered with Children’s Hopechest & Point Community Church to supply children with soap and vitamins in Kaberamaido, Uganda. When the Hepatitis B outbreak hit, B.A.R.E Soaps quickly diverted funds to support vaccinations. In 2016, B.A.R.E. Soaps funded a local research center where they could donate sanitary products. That same year, B.A.R.E Soaps partnered with Sundara Fund in Kalwa Slum, India. Every month, 500 school children living in the slums receive a bar of soap and basic health care and hygiene training.
  5. Lush
    Lush is known for its bright and colorful bath bombs and sweet-smelling shampoo bars. Using the freshest ingredients, Lush lives by six core philosophies to fight against animal testing. 100 percent of their products are vegetarian and more than 80 percent are vegan. All of its products are handmade and sold “naked” or without packaging to reduce the amount of waste in landfills. Lush advocates for those without a voice. Through their body lotion, Charity Pot, Lush donates all of the proceeds to “small grassroots organizations working in the areas of human rights, animal protection and environmental justice”. Since 2007, Charity Pot has helped Lush donate more than $33 million to over 2,450 grassroots charities in 42 countries. In 2010, the Sustainable Lush Fund was created. Since then, over 44 projects in 21 countries have been created.

These five soap brands that give back, are more than just charitable. They have given many people healthier and cleaner lives. Despite how simplistic a bar of soap can be, many people lack access to hygiene products and even clean water. Even the smallest gift can cleanse generations of detrimental conditions.

– Emily Beaver
Photo: Flickr