Information and stories about poverty reduction.

African Movies Addressing Poverty Under the deep turmoil of an economic crisis surrounded by political unrest and social change, Africa has a rich culture in film. Directors in African countries such as Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa are using the art of film-making to address real issues of poverty in the country. This further showcases the ability of movies to serve as a vehicle for social change. This article will highlight five African movies addressing poverty.

Considered the poorest continent on Earth, one in three people in Africa lives below the poverty line. In particular, children and women share the greatest burden of poverty. In the midst of the dire situation in Africa, the movie industry is attempting to shed light on the poverty crisis. Actors, actresses and directors alike are using film to touch the hearts of the viewers. Through these cinematic opportunities, they hope people will take action.

5 African Movies Addressing Poverty

  1. Knuckle City. Written and directed by Jahmil XT Qubeka, this oscar-nominated movie follows the story of Dude Nyakama. Nyakama is a struggling boxer who uses the sport to keep himself out of poverty. The movie challenges the cultural norms of masculinity and punishes misogynists for their actions. At its core, Knuckle City is a call to action. The film shows viewers the detrimental consequences of a poverty-stricken, corrupt misogynist and violent society.
  2. Hyenas. This film takes place in a Senegalese village where the elders of the community must sell their possessions to save themselves as poverty rises. However, a surprise visit from a former resident has the villagers hopeful that the visitor will donate. Alas, upon learning that the woman has other plans, the residents realize the price they must pay. The movie looks at the desperate actions people in need will take and the way human folly can lead those in poverty down the wrong path.
  3. The First Grader. Based on a true story, this movie emphasizes the importance of education. An 84-year-old Kenyan villager and veteran fights for his right to go to school after being denied the right as a child due to a lack of money. The movie is a triumphant testimony to the force of education. Further, it shows just how important it is for education to be affordable for all social classes.
  4. Neria. As Zimbabwe’s highest-grossing film, this movie analyzes the issues faced by a rural woman left in poverty. When Jesesi Mungoshi loses her husband, her farm and her livelihood, she is forced to find a way to survive in a time where women are considered inferior. Her journey is empowering. Ultimately, her defiance of cultural norms leads her on a path to independence.
  5. Stealing Africa. Companies have extracted more than $29 billion worth of copper from Zambia in the last 10 years. However, the country remains one of the poorest in the world. Stealing Africa exposes foreign corporations for the culprits they are. In the documentary, an investigation finds that all the money lost due to “dodgy tax practices” could amount to 10 times the international aid that Zambia currently receives. Essentially, if foreign corporations were to follow tax regulations, Zambia’s development would significantly improve.

The film industry in Africa is taking a creative twist on the war against extreme poverty. The writers and directors involved are creating stories that capture one’s attention and characters that steal your heart. These African movies addressing poverty are prompting viewers to take action.

Shvetali Thatte
Photo: Pixabay

Teaching Indonesia’s Impoverished Population to Fish “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” – Ancient Proverb. The Indonesian government is taking the above saying to heart. It is doing its best to teach the poor population how to provide for themselves rather than merely providing aid. The government has grouped poverty reduction programs in Indonesia into three clusters: Social assistance, community empowerment and microenterprise empowerment. Simply put, cluster one is similar to giving Indonesia’s impoverished population fish while cluster two is giving the population a fishing rod and teaching them to fish. Finally, cluster three is facilitating fishing by providing a boat.

The Three Clusters

  • Social Assistance – This cluster of poverty-reduction programs in Indonesia is focused on providing direct assistance to poor households. In the past, the government had taken measures to implement “a single ‘combo’ card-based cashless payment system” in order to promote financial inclusion. It also reallocated fuel subsidies to directly assist poor and vulnerable families. Furthermore, the non-cash food assistance program has transformed the delivery of nutrition-sensitive food assistance. This is the first step to reducing Indonesia’s impoverished population.
  • Community Empowerment – With a more macro focus when compared to social assistance, this cluster gives poor communities the social funds they need to improve basic social and economic services. The programs included in community empowerment fall under PNPM. PNPM is an umbrella policy that attempts to self-help community capacity by creating jobs and achieving a better standard of community welfare. Examples of PNPM programs include social activities, such as the activity of posyandu (a community-based vehicle to improve child development) and BKM, which provides free medical service. It also includes economic activities such as women entrepreneurs weaving traditional clothes and micro-credits for women entrepreneur groups. The PNPM programs have seen great success in recent years with the community participation level reaching 39 percent and per capita consumption increasing 9.1 percent.
  • Microenterprise Empowerment – This third cluster looks at providing access to credits for microenterprises without having them be “hindered by the requirement to provide collaterals.” Most of these enterprises are independent and “highly labor-intensive,” employing “low levels of skills and technology.” According to the SMERU Research Institute, microenterprises provide income and employment for significant portions of workers in rural and urban areas. Microenterprises comprise more than 50 percent of the nation’s GDP. Each unit microenterprise can absorb 1-5 workers. In addition to the independent enterprises, “the government provides a subsidized guarantee scheme at 70 percent in which the government pays the premium” to find unbankable businesses that lack collateral.

The above programs have already achieved a great measure of success. They have reduced poverty by half from 24.3 percent in 1999 to 10.4 percent in 2013. However, there is room for further improvements. In 2014, “only one-fifth of the poorest 10 percent in Indonesia” had received all the benefits to which they were entitled.

Future Reformation

Possibilities for reformation in cluster one include a two-way updating system to the connection between the target database and the program-based beneficiary lists. This would help major social assistance programs reach the right people. Since needs change during certain times, having additional monitoring and evaluation to fill in the gaps in program design will improve the planning of the programs. Moreover, redesigning the Credit for People Initiatives by providing an incentive for smallholders for productive assets accumulation would leverage the poor with adequate access to the program and increase the impact of clusters two and three as well.

To add to the effectiveness of programs that are reducing Indonesia’s impoverished communities, the government has also established a national team, chaired by the Vice President. It is the Vice President’s hope that with the specific changes being looked at in each of the clusters, Indonesia will eventually bring the vast majority of those in poverty to a more sustainable economic situation.

Shvetali Thatte
Photo: Flickr

All As One is Fighting Child Poverty
All As One is an orphanage fighting child poverty in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone is one of the poorest countries in the world – 70 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. The 340,000 orphaned children feel the disparities of this country in particular. They have a one in five chance of dying before they reach the age of 5 and a 57 percent chance of never learning to read.

Recently, The Borgen Project had the opportunity to speak to the Executive Director of All As One, Deanna Wallace. During the interview, Wallace noted that All As One has been working in Sierra Leone over the past 20 years and that the orphanage has impacted “the lives of over 35,000 children and young adults, helping to bring change to a generation of children.”

How All As One Fights Child Poverty

Four main factors cause poverty in Sierra Leone including corruption within the government, insufficient infrastructure, lack of education and inadequate civil rights. Children often die at birth due to low-quality health care or starvation. The problem of child poverty worsened after the 2014 Ebola outbreak, which left thousands more children orphaned and impoverished.

All As One is fighting child poverty in Sierra Leone by taking care of its most vulnerable children and young adults. The orphanage provides them with a home, education, medical care and other amenities as needed. While All As One does not offer adoption services, the amenities it does provide help these children establish a healthier lifestyle.

Wallace stated that, “All As One helps fight poverty on the ground level, mainly through education, so that their children can find jobs and support themselves as adults.” The organization also gives micro-loans to entrepreneurial young women with dreams of starting a business. In addition, All As One provides nourishing meals to 100 children every day, with hopes that these children escape the grips of poverty.

The organization currently has about 45 children in care and about 55 daily patrons from the surrounding community, who visit for schooling and food.

Life At the Center

Life for a child at All As One involves going to school, doing homework, completing small chores, having playtime in the afternoons, attending church on Sundays and occasionally going on outings. Reflecting upon these offerings, Wallace said that “the children we care for have it better than so many [children in Sierra Leone] like those who are forced into the workforce as a child.” A staggering 51.3 percent of children in Sierra Leone are subject to child labor.

Recent Strides in Fighting Global Poverty

Recently, five All As One students received the opportunity to take a university entrance exam. Although the test typically has a 95 percent failure rate, all five AAO students passed the exam and were able to continue on to attend university. Victories such as this encourage All As One to continue its fight against poverty in Sierra Leone.

– Emily Joy Oomen
Photo: Flickr

Music and Poverty
Globally, each culture has a connection to music. Numerous Latin American cultures developed music such as salsa and tango,  energizing types of music with trumpets and bongos. Meanwhile, the Middle East produces songs written in Arabic. This style ranges anywhere from traditional Arabic music filled with violins and percussion instruments to Arabic pop including catchy lyrics set to engaging instrumental tunes. Although different cultures produce different types of music, people often view music as a link between cultures and nations. People often do not put music and poverty together, but the study of music is often beneficial and may allow some the chance to escape the poverty line.

The Link Between Music and Poverty

A study at Northwestern University has proven that music lessons can help alleviate the psychological damages that poverty brings. This study observed how learning to read sheet music affected teenager’s brains, aged 14 and 15. By teaching the children how to read musical scales, Kraus, the leader of the study, believes that the world can decrease the bridge between literacy and low socioeconomic status.

Ways Music Can Lift People Out of Poverty

Studying and playing music has proven to affect more than just literacy skills. Studies have observed that individuals who learn how to play music experience increased self-esteem, they believe that they can achieve things that they never thought possible. Also, by learning and studying new skills, individuals develop a new sense of discipline that they might have been lacking, which, in turn, encourages individuals to try new things, like attending college or developing a career.

Organizations Putting Music to Good Use

  1. Global HeartStrings: Started by Rachel Barton Pine, Global HeartStrings’ goal is to help foster classical musicians in developing countries. To achieve this, Pine provides children in impoverished countries with sheet music, basic supplies and even instruments.

  2. Children International: Based out of Kansas City, Missouri, this organization has developed a program called Music for Development in the Dominican Republic and Colombia. Started in the Dominican Republic in 2014 and Colombia in 2015, the program aims to teach children and teenagers life skills through music. By teaching children music, the organization says that they are giving individuals a road out of poverty, self-confidence and the ability to reject negative influences.

  3. System of Youth and Children’s Orchestras of Venezuela: Started in 2002, this organization focuses on individuals aged 3 through 29, and teaches them how to play and perform with musical instruments. Ran by Nehyda Alas, the organization has benefited around 350,000 individuals who live below the country’s poverty line. In Venezuela, around 70 percent of the country’s 30 million citizens live in extreme poverty. Alas, the organization promotes a healthier and more fulfilled life by providing children with new skills and the discipline to learn them. The United Nations Development Programme supports this program and the program aims to end the country’s extreme poverty and hunger crisis.

  4. El Sistema: Founded in Venezuela in 1975 by José Antonio Abreu, people have credited this music-education program with helping individuals rise above the poverty line. It is a cultural, educational and social program that helps empower children and teenagers through music. The organization has opened music learning centers in areas that are easily accessible to children living in poverty. At these centers, children work on learning how to play instruments or learning and performing choral music. Abreu believes that by teaching children music, they not only learn how to read and play music, but they also develop positive self-esteem, mutual respect and cooperating skills. They can then apply these skills to their daily lives. He is a believer in the link between music and poverty and strives to help his students achieve their best.

Musicians Who Came from Poverty

  1. Pedrito Martinez, Edgar Pantoja-Aleman, Jhair Sala and Sebastian Natal — Cuban Jazz Group: People know this Cuban jazz group for its unique blending of Yoruba folkloric music, contemporary beats, piano, bongos and traditional Cuban music. Cuba is one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere, and Martinez and Pantoja-Aleman are the only two members of the four-member band that grew up in impoverished areas of the country. Sala is from Peru and grew up in New York City, while Natal is from Uruguay. All four members of the group grew up struggling to make ends meet and they credit music as being both their escape and their success.

  2. Eddie Adams — American Cellist: Adams and his family, his mother and five siblings, lived in a Virginia homeless shelter when he signed up for band class in 10th grade. Although cello was not his first choice of an instrument, Adams grew to enjoy playing and would watch YouTube videos at school to improve his skills. He did not own his own cello, nor could he afford to take formal music lessons. However, after his audition, Adams received a full-tuition scholarship to George Mason University in Virginia where he became the lead cellist.

  3. Rachel Barton Pine — American Violinist: Growing up, Pine lived in a single-income household and, in her own words, her family was always “one missed payment from losing the roof over our heads.” Pine’s family could not afford a house with central heating or cooling. As a result, in order to stay warm in the winter, they used a space heater that they rotated every 10 minutes to keep their house warm. Pine worked her way above the poverty line by playing various shows as often as she could. She started playing as young as 5 years old, and as of today, she travels around the world performing her music and people have regarded her as “one of the most accomplished violinists in the world.”

Music and poverty intertwine more than many have originally thought. Music can greatly benefit individuals living below the poverty line as it provides a sense of culture, a form of education and a means of creative expression. Impoverished individuals who study music greatly benefit from increased literacy skills, along with increased self-esteem and a willingness to learn and develop new skills.

Destinee Smethers
Photo: Flickr

India is Winning the War on Poverty
In 2010, India was home to most of the world’s poor with more than 410 million people living in poverty. So, just how is India winning the war on poverty? People do not just define poverty by low income, but also by poor health, poor quality of work and the threat of violence. Since 2010, India has made incredible progress and is now even a middle-income country. India is the second-most populous country and the seventh-largest country by area. The dense population is a trigger for any of the possible negatives that come with living in India.

India’s Path to Economic Success

From 2006 to 2016, India lifted 271 million people out of poverty, cutting the poverty rate by half. This was because of improvements in assets, sanitation and nutrition. India received recognition for improvements it made in some of its most impoverished areas. In Jharkhand, poverty has decreased from 74.9 percent (2006) to 46.5 percent (2016). The better quality of life is a huge factor in how India is winning the war on poverty, most importantly in regards to nutrition.

Organizations such as The Integrated Child Development Services and The National Health Mission set out to improve the nutrition status in the country. Care is an NGO that has been working for 68 years to fight poverty in India. It formed in 1950 by the signing of the IndoCARE bilateral agreement and focuses on women and children. India is home to 30 percent of the world’s impoverished children, and children are twice as likely to live in poverty than adults. Saying this, poverty rates among children have decreased faster than adults, and the child mortality rate has decreased by 2.4 percent compared to 2005.

A Better Future

Predictions determine that 40 percent of Indians will be urban residents by 2030, but it is still imperative that there is socioeconomic inclusion within the rural states, where a majority of the country’s poor reside. There is a lack of connection to electricity, internet and financial institutions which drastically impacts the poverty rate. The Economic Rural Development Society, a nonprofit established in 1982, works to introduce sustainable development techniques in rural communities. It has built 606 sanitation units to lower the impact of human waste as well as forming health education and rehabilitation programs for the elderly. It equips marginalized people with education, livelihood skills and self-governing capabilities.

In 2018, only 5 percent of the 130 billion living in India was in extreme poverty. According to the World Poverty Clock, if things continue the way they are, fewer than 3 percent of the population will live in extreme poverty by 2021. Having more access to cooking fuels, sanitation faculties and household assets have driven the decrease in poverty.

For India to continue to win the war on poverty it must implement skill development for its workers. Changes in education and a focus on tangible skills are important to ensure Indian workers keep up with the technologically advancing world.

Efforts to make health care more accessible to all citizens is a problem that the country still needs to tackle. Making sure that people properly sanitize health care facilities is also a way to ensure that the tightly-packed population does not get sick. India eradicated the Polio scare, but there is still 63 percent of the population dying from non-communicable diseases, which can emerge from unhealthy food and lifestyle choices.

India has a long way to go, but it has moved from the poorest country to a middle-income country. Many of its citizens have emerged from poverty, and the future looks bright for India as long as the way of life continues to rise.

Taylor Pittman
Photo: Flickr

Measuring Global Poverty
Among economists, sociologists and political scientists, accurately measuring global poverty has never been a more important issue. This has recently become a hotly-debated topic, largely due to the World Bank announcing its goal of eliminating extreme poverty by 2030. Therefore, accurately measuring global poverty is crucial to ascertain how much progress global poverty reduction efforts have truly made.

Measuring the Poverty Line

The World Bank introduced the poverty line in 1990 and it has become one of the most impactful advancements in global poverty studies. The World Bank, the United Nations, developing countries like India and many others use a poverty line that remains constant over geography and time. People often refer to this method as an absolute measurement, but a common critique some have of this method is that it glosses over deprivation within developing countries and higher costs of living within developed countries. Organizations and countries use a relative measure of poverty to address these oversights. A relative measurement sets the poverty line at a “constant proportion of the mean or median poverty line.”

 However, some critique this measurement for overlooking the absolute standard of living and assuming that relative income is the only important factor for well-being. To address these various issues, an Australian economist Martin Ravallion has proposed a new hybrid model to more accurately measure global poverty.

The Introduction of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP)

For more than 35 years, the World Bank used a global poverty line and collected data from households to measure global poverty. In 2015, a team of World Bank economists set out to update the poverty line. The release of new Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) conversion factors largely necessitated this update. PPP allows for the comparison of the prices of goods and services across countries. Francisco Ferreira, the leader of the project, believed that measuring global poverty overtime required a fixed-line consistent across countries, even as the prices of goods and services changed. In 2008, the poverty line was $1.25 per day. Using the new PPPs, the new poverty line became $1.90 per day. Estimates determined that 14.5 percent of the world’s population was living in extreme poverty using the old line, whereas it became 14.1 percent or 700 million people using the new line.

Poverty has been declining dramatically across the world over the previous decades, although Ravallion suggests that inaccurate measurements may be exaggerating the decline. These inaccuracies may be because poverty is relative, concerns other factors than income and affects certain members of a household more than others. Ravallion has proposed a hybrid measurement to address the issues posed by the absolute and relative measurements. This approach to measuring global poverty uses a common global standard of living as well as relative poverty within a particular country. People determine the poverty line according to the income that a certain welfare status requires. Ravallion found that people may be overestimating the extent to which global poverty has decreased using his hybrid measure. His estimate of the world suffering from extreme poverty is 32 percent, significantly higher than the World Bank’s estimate of 11 percent, calculated using a poverty line of $1.90 per day.

Adam Bentz
Photo: Flickr

Mental Health in Ecuador
One of the numerous factors spurred by poverty is mental illness. In many developing countries, those who are mentally ill face ostracization and a lack of support from health care providers. Mental illness may cause substance abuse, which can create further mental issues that prevent those who are ill from seeking assistance. Additionally, people who are mentally ill and abuse drugs in countries or areas where gang activity is common are much more likely to join criminal groups and further exacerbate the prevalence of gang-related violence. Ecuador is no exception to these symptoms. 

Government-funded health care provisions have largely overlooked mental health in Ecuador. Policy regarding mental health does exist, but the provisions are outdated and only 10 percent of the policy’s original content was put into action. Additionally, the policy’s provisions receive no regular public funding, even though much of Ecuador’s health care infrastructure is dependent on public funds. 

The Stigma of Mental Illness

The mental health policies do allow health care institutions to treat those who are mentally ill, however, mental health typically receives less attention than other sectors of health care. The lack of attention towards mentally ill people links back to the social perception of mental illness in Ecuador. People in many developing countries often consider seeking medical assistance for mental issues wrong. People who do not have a mental illness may find it difficult to understand what it is like to live with one. Many ill people do not seek treatment due to stigma and explore alternative methods, such as drugs, to cope with their problems instead. 

Many developing countries have only recently established mental health awareness. In the United States, social stigma still exists to an extent. However, the U.S. has established facilities to adequately treat the mentally ill. That is not the case in many developing countries. In numerous Ecuadorian provinces, people do not treat mental health institutions as primary facilities. Mental health is classified as a primary health care concern under Ecuadorian law, but only 25 percent of the population has access to these services. 

Progress In Mental Health

However, Ecuador is making progress. Rather than focusing on directly funding mental health institutions, the Ecuadorian government is beginning to direct attention to community-based solutions. Trained nurses diagnose mental illness and must make a referral to a primary source of care. Even so, a large portion of the mentally ill in Ecuador does not receive diagnosis or treatment. Groups like McLean Hospital are working to educate Ecuadorians at the university level, as well as at the community level. McLean Hospital believes that the most important step is to educate the public on the truth behind mental illness. Education can drive Ecuador’s perception of mental illness from one of stigma to acceptance and treatment.

Crime in Latin America is a dire issue that pushes millions out of their homes and their countries. By improving the mental health situation in Ecuador, there would likely be a large decrease in gang-related and drug activities. As a direct result, those who are mentally ill would receive adequate treatment and experience a much higher quality of life through the support from their community and health care.

– Graham Gordon
Photo: Wikimedia

Ghana's Poverty Rate
Ghana is a West African country that has made considerable progress in reducing poverty. Ghana’s poverty rate gradually lowered since the 1990’s. Poverty reduced from 52.6 percent in 1991 to 21.4 percent in 2011. Ghana slashed its poverty rate by more than half and became a middle-income country in 2011. The three reasons for this huge reduction are economic growth, diversification and education development.

Poverty Reduction in Ghana: 3 Keys to Success

  1. Economic Growth: Ghana’s 2017 GDP growth rate was about 8.4 percent, which was the seventh-fastest GDP growth rate in the world. The economy is developing quickly, as the country sets a few policy barriers to investment and trade in relation to other African countries in the region. Due to the few barriers, investment in natural resources such as oil and gold are common. Gold alone brings about 48 percent of the country’s revenue and is one of the main reasons for economic growth. Gold production amounted to about 590,000 ounces in 1990 and increased to 4.6 million ounces in 2018. As of 2018, Ghana is number seven in the world for gold production.

    Oil is also an important export but is relatively new. The oil sector is less than 10 years old, yet is growing at a rapid rate. In 2017, more than 500 million barrels were produced from the Sankofa fields. Ghana’s growth averaged about 4 to 5 percent in the 1990’s and has gradually increased over time. Thanks to steady growth, Ghana’s poverty rate was 21 percent in 2012, which is less than half the African average of 43 percent.

  2. Diversification: Oil and gas are two areas that helped diversify the economy and reduce Ghana’s poverty rate by creating jobs and increasing wages for those transitioning out from low-wage occupations and into more lucrative fields. The service industry is 57 percent of GDP and remains the largest sector and another important area in Ghana’s growth. The service sector also employs about 40 percent of the population.

    Agriculture still employs a little more than a quarter of the population, yet the service and manufacturing sectors have steadily grown since 1991. Developing economies are mainly agriculture-dependent economies. As a middle-income country, the amount of the population employed by Ghana’s manufacturing and service sector expresses transitioning into a developed and stable economy. In 2008, employment in agriculture was 52.5 percent and reduced to 33 percent in 2018. Service employment rose from 33 percent in 2008 to 47 percent in 2018. In only 10 years the service sector has grown 14 percent. The industry grew 4 percent during that same time period. Telecommunications and tourism are two services that helped grow the service sector.

  3. Focus on Education: A better educated and trained country leads to more opportunities. The number of people in Ghana’s workforce without education dropped from 41 percent in 1991 to 21 percent in 2012. Almost 90 percent of children attend school, which is a big difference from other African countries. Only 64 percent of Nigerian children attend school. Ghana spends about 8 percent of its budget on education, which is more than the United Nation’s 6 percent benchmark. For reference, the U.K. spends a little more than 6 percent on education. Ghana’s progress in education began with the U.N.’s millennium development goals that the U.N. set in 2000, and it developed at such a fast rate because it pushed for education.

Ghana’s poverty rate slashed in half thanks to education development, diversification and fast economic growth. The economy is still strong despite its 2015 recession. The economically diverse and natural resource-rich Ghana has made tremendous progress in poverty reduction and is projected to continue reducing its poverty rate in the future.

Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Flickr

young advocatesToday, some of the most innovative, forward-thinking change-makers happen to be under the age of 18. Keep reading to learn more about these three top young advocates who are doing their part to address global issues from poverty to gender equality and education.

3 Young Advocates Who are Changing the World

  1. Zuriel Oduwole
    Since the age of 10, Zuriel Oduwole has been using her voice to spread awareness about the importance of educating young girls in developing countries. Now 17 years old, Oduwole has made a difference in girls’ education and gender issues in Africa by meeting with and interviewing important political figures like presidents, prime ministers and first ladies. To date, Oduwole has spoken in 14 countries to address the importance of educating young girls in developing countries, including Ethiopia, South Africa, Ghana, Tanzania and Nigeria. “They need an education so they can have good jobs when they get older,” Oduwole said in a 2013 interview with Forbes. “Especially the girl child. I am really hoping that with the interviews I do with presidents, they would see that an African girl child like me is doing things that girls in their countries can do also.”
  2. Yash Gupta
    After breaking his glasses as a high school freshman, Yash Gupta realized how much seeing affects education. He did some research and found out that millions of children do not have access to prescription lenses that would help them to excel in their studies. Gupta then founded Sight Learning, a nonprofit organization that collects and distributes eyeglasses to children in Mexico, Honduras, Haiti and India.

  3. Amika George
    At the age of 18, Amika George led a protest outside of former U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s home to convince policymakers to end “period poverty.” Period poverty is the unavailability of feminine sanitary products for girls who cannot afford them. Girls who can’t afford these products are often left to use rags or wads of tissue, which not only raises health concerns but also keeps girls from their education. In order to combat this issue, George created a petition with the goal for schools to provide feminine products to girls who receive a free or reduced lunch. As of now, George has mobilized over 200,000 signatures and helped catapult the conversation of period poverty at the political level in the U.K.

These three world-changing children prove that age does not matter when it comes to making a difference in the world.

Juliette Lopez
Photo: Flickr

Nonprofits Helping Syrian Refugees

The Syrian civil war has been ongoing since 2011, making the Syrian refugee population the world’s largest group forcibly displaced from their country. At the end of 2018, there were 13 million refugees from Syria, accounting for more than half of the country’s total population. The vast majority of Syrian refugees in Lebanon (70 percent) and Jordan (90 percent) are living below the poverty line. Fortunately, a number of groups are stepping in to deliver humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees. Keep reading to learn more about these three nonprofits helping Syrian refugees.

3 Nonprofits Helping Syrian Refugees

  1. Sunrise USA – Founded in 2011, Sunrise USA is a nonprofit organization focused on providing humanitarian assistance for Syrians in need whether they still live in the country or not. The group is focused on sustainable development in areas including education and health care.
    • Health Care With help from donations, Sunrise USA built a full-time clinic in the Tayba camp in Syria, as well as a clinic in Istanbul and a polyclinic in Rihanli, Turkey. The organization has also established 22 trauma care facilities in Syria.
    • Education As of 2018, around 5.8 million children and youth in Syria were in need of education assistance. About 2.1 million of them were out of school completely. Sunrise USA has built four schools and provided books and supplies to students and families around refugee camps. In 2015, Sunrise USA was a lead sponsor in the creation of the Al-Salam School which had 1,200 students.
    • Care for Orphans The number of Syrian orphans, both in Syria and neighboring countries, has increased to more than 1 million since 2011. Through Sunrise USA’s orphan sponsorship, hundreds of orphans have been provided with food, clothing, education and medicine.
  2. Doctors Without Borders (DWB) – Officially founded in 1971, the organization’s core belief is that “all people have the right to medical care regardless of gender, race, religion, creed, or political affiliation, and that the needs of these people outweigh respect for national boundaries.” Here’s a look at DWB’s efforts to help Syrian refugees:
    • Jordan – In 2017, Jordan closed off the border connecting the country to Syria and in 2018 canceled all subsidized health care for Syrian refugees. Doctors Without Borders has three clinics in Irbid, Jordan that focus on non-communicable diseases, which are the leading causes of death in the region. In 2018, the organization provided 69,000 outpatient consultations, 11,900 individual mental health consultations and 2,690 assisted births.
    • Lebanon – Shatila refugee camp in South Beirut is home to Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese people living in poor and overcrowded conditions with minimal services. Doctors Without Borders has set up both a primary health care center and a women’s center inside the camp in 2013. The organization also launched a vaccination campaign around the camp, opened a mental health support branch in a clinic in Fneideq, offer family planning and mental health care services in the Burj-al-Barajneh refugee camp, and operate a care program in Ein-al-Hilweh refugee camp for patients with mobility issues.
  3. Concern Worldwide US – Founded in 1968, Concern Worldwide works in the world’s poorest countries to provide emergency response, education, water and sanitation, as well as help communities develop resilience to higher impacting climates. The organization works to help Syrian refugees in a few ways:
    • Lebanon – Concern Worldwide is not only focused on creating “collection centers,”–which are multi-family shelters–but also on improving water, sanitation and hygiene conditions in the highly concentrated refugee areas of the country. The organization has provided assistance for 56,000 refugees and is also helping hundreds of children get access to education.
    • Syria – Since 2014, Concern Worldwide has worked in Syria to tackle waterborne diseases by installing generators and chlorinated water sources and also providing hygiene supplies. The organization also provides basic necessities to Syrians by distributing food baskets and for families with access to markets, food vouchers.

– Jordan Miller
Photo: Flickr