Information and stories about poverty reduction.

Nonprofits Helping Syrian RefugeesThe 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.

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

Japanese Organizations Combating Poverty
Just like other highly developed nations, Japan actively pursues international affairs. People tend to think of America as a country that aids in poverty reduction before Japan, with famous American humanitarian groups like the Red Cross or Salvation Army in mind. Japan has charities of its own, though; a handful of them focus on eliminating poverty in various locations. Here is a list of Japanese organizations combating poverty on a global scale, expanding the visions of a better future from Japan to the rest of the globe.

The Nippon Foundation

One Japanese organization is the Nippon Foundation, which participates in several areas of activity, including how to enrich communities and bring them closer together. The Nippon Foundation describes itself as a social innovation hub, but it is also a nonprofit organization providing grants to fund research. The Establishment of Model Learning Deaf School in the Philippines receives around $161,000 in grants. Scholarships, fellowships and supporting projects in social issues are also part of the Foundation’s scope. Projects of the Nippon Foundation branch out into multiple fields; it provides resources to directly address poverty itself and its reach goes to a diverse number of countries.

One focus of the organization is child poverty, as it attempts to bring awareness to the issue. Important research in economics helps display the burden children have when they try to attend schools. More specifically, the project targeted the fact that a difference in education produces a difference in income, and a higher income leads to more taxes and social security premiums, reducing the government’s fiscal load. By comparing scenarios, the organization proved that a higher number of well-paying jobs yields significantly more premiums.

The Foundation set up an initiative in Africa to teach agricultural farmers how to increase their production, wishing to teach farmers how to process and preserve crops rather than only provide resources. It aimed to create a value chain or framework for sustainable agriculture to help farmers establish a market for their crops.

In Myanmar, the Foundation supported the building of schools and treatment for leprosy. From the 1960s until the present day, the cases of leprosy per 10,000 have reduced from 250 to 10. The Nippon Foundation began building schools and similar infrastructure during Myanmar’s period of military rule, where the country did not connect with the rest of the world. The government directly requested the organization to establish schools, eventually creating a link with the local communities it was helping.

Oxfam Japan

Oxfam believes that poverty is an injustice in a rich world and that every person should live with dignity. Comprised of a confederation of smaller organizations, Oxfam Japan also places heavy emphasis on community and global interactivity. Poor people, Oxfam believes, should possess a voice in the decisions that affect them and enjoy an improved livelihood in the process.

The organization’s actions include emergency responses that provide immediate relief to natural disasters and conflict as well as long term development. The organization places a significant effort on assisting those impacted by the Syrian crisis. The organization provided water tank installations, vouchers and cash assistance for foods and sanitation goods. It also distributed essential items like blankets during winter.

Apart from long and short-term program work and relief, Oxfam Japan practices advocacy. Lobbying often influences the powerful and the organization is using its years of experience and research to address the issues revolving around poverty. Oxfam then amplifies this advocacy work with campaigning, which raises the voices of the people, invigorating the general public. Topics of their campaigns include debt relief, basic education and humanitarian response.

Japan considers raising awareness of disadvantaged citizens important. The fact that Japan belongs to the Group of Eight (G8), or the eight most industrialized countries in the world, means that it can accomplish substantial influence when it addresses poverty. Oxfam shares its experiences helping around the world and in Japan to pique interest in global affairs. Campaigning to Japanese officials about global poverty helps prioritize this issue on the international agenda.

Japan’s Emergency Nonprofit Organization (JEN)

A third Japanese organization combating poverty is JEN or Japan Emergency Nonprofit Organization. Responding to disasters across the globe, JEN meets the current needs of its recipients with emergency relief and reconstruction assistance.

JEN enlists projects in different countries. One example is when the organization sent emergency relief goods to Haiti after its 2010 earthquake. Later, the organization sent support to repair water and sanitation; it taught citizens how to lead self-reliant lives after the quake upheaved the normal facilities they had grown used to.

The organization carried out a similar action plan after an earthquake in Indonesia in 2009. It delivered emergency supplies to the people in the mountainous areas of the affected Indonesian coast first due to the little attention that area received. It also implemented workshops to teach how to lessen the effects of natural disasters. After also realizing the government provided food and water but not housing repair, JEN provided toolkits to make reconstruction possible. These projects align with the mission statement of the organization that includes addressing the specific needs in a situation and focusing on the people most left out.

Community participation is also invaluable to JEN’s goal. A section on the organization’s website seeks out volunteers and invites participation in its events and lectures. JEN welcomes corporate and foundation supporters, suggesting ways smaller groups can support them, such as mobilizing a workforce.

JEN tries to retain strong engagement by providing a news page with periodic updates, lists of meet-ups, lectures and even wine and fishing events. These are all to spread awareness of the countries that require attention.

These Japanese organizations combating poverty are still up and running today. Each of their efforts has helped reduce the impact of disaster within the countries they have aided and allowed the countries to adapt quickly.

– Daniel Bertetti
Photo: Flickr

Breastfeeding in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe is an African country located in the southern region of the continent. It has beautiful landscapes and wildlife that attract many people every year, but the country is still intensely poverty-stricken. In fact, it is one of the poorest nations in the world with a whopping 70 percent of the entire nation living under the poverty line.Many of the downsides that come with poverty are present in the country, but one downside that people often do not consider is how poverty affects breastfeeding in Zimbabwe. While people often see breastfeeding as a natural process that even the poorest populations do, breastfeeding is limited in Zimbabwe. About 66.8 percent of Zimbabwean women exclusively breastfed their newborns between the first six months of life with only 32 percent starting breastfeeding within the first day of life. In a country of malnourished people and food scarcity, this article will explore why women do not frequently breastfeed in Zimbabwe.

The Reason Women Do Not Breastfeed in Zimbabwe

One can attribute the lack of exclusive breastfeeding in Zimbabwe to a set of issues that include low education, low income and traditional practices as well as the country having a patriarchal society. Women said what they were only comfortable exclusively breastfeeding for the first three months of their child’s life and this directly relates to the fact that there is intense pressure from in-laws to include different foods in their babies’ diets which stems from long uninformed traditions. With little to no support from the male partner, mothers can find it difficult to resist this pressure.

In combination with these factors, there is also the simple fact that many Zimbabwean women suffer extreme malnourishment. Some reports also stated that many mothers who did not engage in exclusive breastfeeding for at least the first three months of life were simply unable to produce enough milk to fully nourish their babies.

The Effect On Zimbabwean Babies

Zimbabwe has an infant mortality rate of 50 deaths per 1,000 births. For perspective, the infant mortality rate in the United States is five deaths per 1,000 births. Reports determined that 10 percent of all mortality in children aged 5 years was because of non-exclusive breastfeeding at the beginning of life, which is quite significant.

In conjunction with this high infant mortality rate, there is also chronic malnutrition and stunting. Approximately 27 percent of children under the age of 5 in Zimbabwe suffer from chronic malnutrition. Stunting also occurs in Zimbabwean children but varies by region from 19 percent to 31 percent.

There is a correlation between education and breastfeeding in Zimbabwe as well. People have observed a connection between education and breastfeeding not only in the patterns of the mother but also in how it affects her children.

Solutions

Some are making efforts to bring more awareness and education to the people of Zimbabwe. One of these efforts is the initiation of World Breastfeeding Week which representatives from WHO, UNICEF and the Ministry of Health and Child Care launched due to concerns about the low exclusive breastfeeding rates. Only 48 percent of babies below the age of 6 months received exclusive breastfeeding at the time of this event which is significantly lower than the 66.8 percent in 2019.

The improved statistics show that efforts to combat the misinformation and societal pressures among Zimbabwean women to improve rates of exclusive breastfeeding are working. While poverty negatively affects breastfeeding in Zimbabwe, others are slowly combating it.

– Samira Darwich
Photo: Pixabay

safer child labor laws
Eritrea is a country in Africa founded in 1993. It is a fairly new country but has already faced many problems regarding poverty and its impact on the people who call Eritrea home. The poverty rate is roughly 50 percent of its 4.475 million inhabitants. Even before primary school, children often must start working due to the unfortunate circumstances that poverty created. A 2008 study showed that legislation already existed for safer child labor laws, but a 2016 study revealed Eritrea’s government offered very little implementation of these laws. With countless amounts of children in Eritrea’s workforce, the problem is less the actual laws in place, but the enforcement of these laws. Fortunately, Eritrea recently made big steps in furthering legislation for a safer workforce in 2019. Here is an overview of Eritrea’s progression toward safer child labor laws.

Eritrea’s Initial Legislative State

In 2008, the Bureau of International Labor Affairs conducted a study painting a clear picture of the state of child labor in Eritrea. Children in rural Eritrea often work labor-intensive jobs like working in fields, carrying water or collecting wood. Children in urban Eritrea can work as vendors selling cigarettes, gum or newspapers. At this time, there are some child labor laws in place to increase protection and safety. There is a minimum work age of 14. Children aged 14-18 have a daily work limit of 7 hours a day and they can only work between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Children under 18 cannot work in hazardous environments. These laws seemed like a positive start for Eritrean children.

The True Picture

In 2016, shocking evidence revealed the scope of the child labor issue in Eritrea. The U.N. released a full-detailed inquiry that determined Eritrea’s government was responsible for not only encouraging child labor, but participating in extrajudicial killings, tortures and sexual slavery. The Eritrean army, the National Security Agency, the president and the police force were all huge factors in worsening child labor conditions. This investigation did not change any legislation and was a major step back in Eritrea’s governmental support toward safer child labor laws.

Recent Progress

On June 3rd, 2019, Eritrea’s government ratified eight important conventions formed by the International Labor Organization (ILO). The ratifications exemplify huge progress for the country because it shows signs that there will be better enforcement of safer child labor laws from now on. ILO’s conventions include prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labor. Eritrea’s goal is to eliminate forced labor and end all forms of child labor by 2025. With the government’s agreement to these eight ratifications, that goal is actually within reach. The future lives of millions of children who live in Eritrea will soon change for the better.

The progression of Eritrea’s government toward safer child labor laws from 2008-2019 has been a struggle. While Eritrea’s government initially appeared to show interest in creating a safer working environment for its children, further research proved how little it really enforced legislation. This year witnessed exceptional progress, lighting the way for a brighter future in safer child labor laws.

– Kat Fries
Photo: Pixabay

7 Facts About Poverty in Yemen
Yemen demonstrates extremely poor standards of life expectancy, education and overall living. Yemen’s ongoing political unrest has been a major cause of the country’s poverty. Regardless of the cause, poverty in Yemen is frightening. Here are seven facts about poverty in Yemen.

7 Facts About Poverty in Yemen

  1. Even prior to its political instability, Yemen was already the poorest country in the region spanning the Middle East to North Africa. It exhibits the lowest rank on the Human Development Index (HDI) among Arab states. Yemen also ranks 178 out of 189 countries on the HDI.
  2. The U.N. estimates that approximately 80 percent of Yemenis are vulnerable to hunger. About 14.3 million are in need of medical assistance to combat malnutrition along with other issues. Starvation, cholera, measles and dengue fever are some of the main culprits. Roughly two million children in Yemen are in immediate need of medical help because of acute malnutrition.
  3. Poverty in Yemen contributes to its remarkably high infant mortality rate of 55.4 deaths under age 5 per 1,000 births. To compare, the United States has a healthier infant mortality rate of 5.8 deaths per 1,000 births. Malnutrition contributes in large part to this statistic.
  4. Almost 18 million Yemeni citizens simply have no access to clean water. UNICEF reports that only around 30 percent of the population uses piped drinking water services. Contaminated water results in many infant deaths. UNICEF does its best to keep this issue to a minimum in Yemen. It maintains the operational water supply systems in Yemen. It also monitors and disinfects the water supply in urban areas and provides WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) humanitarian aid to displaced Yemeni citizens.
  5. Consistent waves in currency depreciation continue to chip away at Yemen’s economy. As a result, inflation threatens and terrorizes the economy and its consumers. It also exacerbates this humanitarian crisis. The Yemeni rial, the official currency of Yemen, lost 75 percent of its value in the past four years. With a GDP of around $27 billion, Yemen must rely on humanitarian aid.
  6. As poverty in Yemen continues to worsen, about two million children remain out of school. Unfortunately, this is due to a lack of teachers and schooling facilities. Without an educated population, Yemen will continue its impoverished conditions. Thankfully, UNICEF secured approximately $70 million for cash incentives for teachers in Yemen. In its efforts, UNICEF also provided access to education for more than 200,000 Yemeni children through the reconstruction of 18 schools and 218 school latrines.
  7. Such a blow to the economy devastated Yemeni citizens on an individual level as well. The World Bank reports that more than 40 percent of households lost their main source of income, placing people under the poverty line. The country is struggling to lift its people out of impoverished conditions. However, the World Bank has several large- scale emergency grants dedicated to Yemen during its crisis. These grants will work with health and nutrition as well as electricity and agriculture.
Poverty in Yemen stems from a range of unfortunate events, primarily its state of political instability under Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. Such instability affects sanitation, infrastructure, economy and medical assistance. These seven facts about poverty in Yemen demonstrate areas of weakness where humanitarian aid can effectively assist. Organizations like UNICEF and the U.N. are already doing their part in the pursuit of aiding and providing for not only Yemen but many countries in similar situations. With UNICEF and the U.N.’s help, Yemen has a better chance of sustaining itself.

Colin Crawford
Photo: Flickr

Facts About Poverty in Montenegro

Montenegro has been an independent state since 2006. It is located is in Southeastern Europe on the Balkan Peninsula, known favorably for its magnificent coastline, limestone peaks and glacial lakes. Unfortunately, the people of Montenegro face many challenges, including a national poverty rate of 8.6 percent. Listed below are 10 facts about poverty in Montenegro.

10 facts about poverty in Montenegro

  1. Most children in Montenegro attend primary school. In 2018, the enrollment rate of primary school-aged children was almost 90 percent. However, according to a World Bank press release, the quality of this education is not up to par. On average, students only get 8.6 years of quality education. Fortunately, recent action has been taken resulting in reforms to the education policy that are in accord with EU legislation. The country is also working on programs to keep students from leaving school early. Educating the youth of Montenegro will better their chances of having healthy and productive lives. It also boosts the economy and decreases poverty rates.
  2. Poverty has historically been concentrated in the Northern, rural areas of Montenegro. The rural poverty rate was 11.3 percent in 2010. This was almost three times the urban rate of 4 percent that year. This is consistent with the global trend of development as many aspects of economic modernization only affect urban areas. In Montenegro, the rural population relies primarily on agricultural subsistence in the form of family farms. However, as urban development has spiked, young people have begun moving to the cities and suburbs. This has left the rural population to a generally older demographic, rendering the family farm model unsustainable.
  3. While levels of education are relatively consistent across genders, the number of men in political positions largely outweighs the number of women. Men also tend to have higher incomes. Fortunately, the Center for Democracy and Human Rights (CEDEM) held a conference with all of the women in Parliament and the Vice President. The Vice President pledged to do more to support the Gender Equality committee in their goals to decrease domestic violence against women and encourage female entrepreneurship. These initiatives will help women feel safe and empowered.
  4. The tourism industry accounts for 20 percent of the GDP. It currently brings in more than three times the population of Montenegro in tourists annually. These numbers are projected to increase as many new luxury tourism complexes are being built along the coast. They will operate in conjunction with nearby boating and yachting facilities. This means that tourism, which currently generates 7.7 percent of total employment, is forecasted to provide 21.5 percent of jobs in Montenegro by 2028.
  5. The future of the tourist industry in Montenegro relies on the natural health and beauty of the country. An organization called Green Home is committed to addressing Montenegro’s existing ecological problems. It will use public advocacy to deal with issues like air and water pollution. Green Home has carried out many successful projects in Montenegro, including school recycling, strengthening hydropower regulation and the South East Europe Sustainable Energy Policy. Green Home has also contributed directly to the tourism industry with its support of local communities around Sasko Lake to implement tourist practices. Green Home’s projects allow tourism to flourish and, therefore, keep thousands of Montenegrins employed.
  6. Montenegro is in the process of transitioning to a market economy. So far, 90 percent of all companies and 100 percent of banking, telecommunications and oil companies have been privatized. This process was facilitated by Montenegro’s low corporate tax rate, which also encourages foreign investors. Montenegro’s foreign investments per capita are now one of the highest in Europe, making it competitive on the international stage.
  7. Montenegro is a lead candidate for integration into the European Union. It is projected to be a member by 2025. This would solidify their trade relationships with other European countries and stimulate natural resource trade and production. This could lead to an increase in industry and create more jobs. Additionally, the EU’s rural development policy would help Montenegro lift its rural population out of poverty.
  8. Montenegro’s unemployment rate was 14.5 percent as of September 2019. One of the main reasons that the rate is so high is that more than 29 percent of Montenegro’s youth (ages 15-24) are unemployed. The country ranks at 15 of the 25 highest youth unemployment rates in the world. Some say it is a result of the high levels of education since most jobs in Montenegro are more blue-collar and often offered to foreign migrants. Regardless, unless unemployment decreases dramatically for this age group in the next few years, this could be a major challenge to the economic future of Montenegro.
  9. State-sanctioned social welfare provides money and social work to those who struggle. However, there is not enough to go around. Only 44 percent of people under the poverty line receive welfare money. Additional help, such as child psychological services, is reportedly hard to come by. The United Nations has been working with the government in Montenegro to change this by providing funding through the #ENDViolence campaign. The campaign includes initiatives such as strengthening social work services and helping parents support their children through a variety of methods.
  10. NGO 4 Life is a non-profit organization working to help former drug addicts reintegrate into society in Montenegro. In 2012, the organization worked with Parliament to reverse a law that said people convicted of drug crimes had to go to prison. Through reforms, drug addicts were offered rehabilitation in certain circumstances. The organization continues to launch projects to help recovering addicts with an overarching goal of decreasing the unemployment rate in Montenegro.

These 10 facts about poverty in Montenegro show that the country’s future promises hope. The World Bank Country Manager in Montenegro, Emanuel Salinas, stated, “We believe that the Government of Montenegro has understood that the prosperity of the country relies on equipping people with the skills and knowledge that are needed in a rapidly changing world.” He admits that this is no easy task, but remains confident. Hopefully, the efforts of the government, along with those of various organizations mentioned in the 10 facts about poverty in Montenegro amount in a significant change in the lives of Montenegrins.

– Madeline Esther Lyons
Photo: Flickr

Countries Recovering from WarCivil war often erupts in countries that suffer from perpetual poverty. At the same time, war only serves to intensify poor living conditions in regions that are already vulnerable. In countries ravaged by war, people are displaced, infrastructure is destroyed and often entire industries are disrupted, destroying the resources that a country needs to keep its people alive. This devastation often persists even after a war is over. However, several formerly war-torn countries are making significant strides when it comes to post-war reconstruction and sustainable development. Here are three examples of countries recovering from war today.

3 Examples of Countries Recovering from War Today

  1. Yadizi Farmers are Recultivating Former ISIS Territory
    When the Islamic State in Syria and the Levant (ISIS) swept through the Sinjar region of northern Iraq in 2014, they displaced millions of farmers who relied on that land to make their living. ISIS persecuted the local Yadizi people for their religious beliefs and tried to destroy their farms in order to prevent them from ever being able to live in Sinjar again. In 2015, the allied Kurdish forces retook Sinjar, but the devastation of the land and the constant threat of land mines has since caused many Yadizi farmers to fear returning to their homeland.However, the Iraqi government has begun funding post-war recovery efforts in order to allow the Yadizi people to take back their land. A Yadizi woman named Nadia Murad, winner of the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize, has started a project called Nadia’s Initiative. A group called the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) has also begun to clear landmines from the land of the displaced farmers. Although progress has been slow, partly due to limited governmental support in recent years and heavy regulations on the transportation of fertilizer, the region is slowly but surely recovering.
  2. The Central African Republic is Working on Protecting its Forests
    After years of political instability and a series of coups, as of 2016, the Central African Republic has a democratically-elected president for the first time in its history. Although the election of President Touadera signaled a step in the right direction toward peacebuilding, there are many areas that still need to be addressed.One particular problem for the Central African Republic is the widespread practice of illegal logging. The country’s forests are one of its biggest resources and wood is its top export, but corrupt public officials have allowed a massive trade in illegal lumber to arise, threatening the sustainability of the forests and undermining recovery efforts. Forest managers attempt to stop the problem but are often threatened by public officials who profit from the illegal lumber trade. However, many in the Central African Republic are working on changing the status quo. In 2016, the country renewed an accord with the European Union that incentivizes the country to reform forestry laws and crack down on illegal logging in exchange for favorable trade agreements. This renewal of the country’s greatest natural resource will help post-war recovery by strengthening its income from trade, building relationships overseas and giving resources for the reconstruction of damaged buildings.
  3. South Sudan is Using Mobile Money to Reignite the Economy
    The country of South Sudan is in the middle of recovering from a civil war that lasted five years and killed about 400,000 people. Part of the devastation wreaked by this war was the collapse of the South Sudanese economy, as cell towers were destroyed, trust in financial institutions was eroded and corruption began to overtake the country’s banks. According to AP News, “Around 80 percent of money in South Sudan is not kept in banks” primarly because most residents are rural and live too far from the major cities where the banks are located. Of course, there are other barriers as well, including the fact that only 16 percent of the population has a government ID (which means more expensive withdrawals and no money transfers) and concerns about the stability of the country’s banking system.As a part of the country’s post-war recovery, the South Sudanese government is working with mobile carriers to create a system called mobile money, in which people can bank from their phones instead of relying on the country’s physical banks and ATMs. This system allows people to easily participate in the Sudanese economy and since studies have shown that having access to services such as banks helps economic growth, the mobile money boom will be invaluable to South Sudan’s post-war recovery. The government is also working on setting up biometric identification for all citizens to use in banking, and on restoring damaged mobile infrastructure in order to make services like mobile money available anywhere.

Kelton Holsen
Photo: Flickr

Artists against PovertyHistorically, art is a concept too broad to comprehend on a simplistic term. It can reference painting, drawing, music, writing, sculpting, acting, most creative ventures tend to fall under the category of art. With such a wide scape, it is no surprise that art also covers a range of topics, from love to politics to recycling. Poverty is a matter which has not escaped the global creative community and artists all over the world use their work to either raise awareness or take action against poverty. There are hundreds of thousands of relevant artists and projects around the world, though a few have caught significant attention for their contributions to the problem. Though a small sample, this article features a few of these artists against poverty and shows how art can be more than a pretty picture.

Willie Baronet

Willie Baronet is an artist, advocate, professor, entrepreneur and creative director who has dabbled in various projects and industries throughout the years. According to SMU (Southern Methodist University), his career includes advertising and design for several graphic projects, such as Communication Art, New York Art Annual and Annual Report Design: A Historical Retrospective 1510-1990. Baronet was also named as an AIGA Fellow in 2013 for his work in establishing a higher standard of performance for the creative community. His significant work as one of the artists against poverty, however, started back in 1993 with a project called We Are All Homeless.

Baronet began collecting signs from the homeless in an effort to raise awareness of the issue and try to understand their situation better. The project touches on both the moral challenge of those in a higher socio-economic position, as well as the more obvious subject of those in need. The work has won several awards and been exhibited all over the country, proving to be a powerful piece in the global conversation of poverty. Baronet’s contributes to such discussion establishes him as a powerful advocate for the homeless and leading voice in the fight against poverty.

Caitlin Beidler

Caitlin Beidler has taken advocacy to new heights with her art career. Back in 2006, she launched Redemption Art, a business that works to “free people through art,” according to the official website. The project has allowed this artist against poverty to directly interact with those in need by fostering a healthier community through small projects, such as murals with local children and live art events. Beidler has also taken global action by going to Haiti to paint murals with the children there in an effort to boost local morale. The work in Haiti has been done primarily through her sister’s non-profit, Growing Roots, an organization that works to help local communities in Haiti through direct action.

Beidler is a founding member of Growing Roots and helps oversee its four primary branches: Camp Hope, Community Mural Projects, the Planting Project and Mercy Relief. Each project touches on a different aspect of daily life for the Haitian people. Camp Hope is a day camp for local children, the Community Mural Projects are an artistic outlet (as previously mentioned), the Planting Project provides education and Mercy Relief provides aid during crisis periods. The work Beidler as done showcases the important facets of an artist’s life, they can both promote creativity while still contributing to the community. Art is both a means of emotional and practical support.

Michael Rakowitz

Michael Rakowitz is one of the artists against poverty who has taken direct action in fighting for the underdog. His career has spanned decades, with work being featured in such prominent venues as MoMA. Rakowitz is famous for its pieces with multiple purposes outside the artistic realm. In 2013, he opened a restaurant in Dubai called Dar Al Sulh. The art project doubled as nourishment for others as it told the history of the Jewish community in Iraq through the cuisine, showcasing the downfall of an entire people. Additionally, Rakowitz has been working on a long-term project since 1998 in which he turns art into a shelter.

The project, entitled paraSITE, utilizes the heat emitting from ventilation systems to create tent-like structures on the sides of buildings. These temporary homes often look like parasitic insects due to their bulbus form and positioning in the city. They have double lining as space between fills with air to inflate the structure while also heating the area inside for the homeless to sit in. The work—still ongoing today—has garnered mass attention for both its versatility and creative representation in the community. Rakowitz (throughout his career and with paraSITE in specific) proves art isn’t just for viewing or experience; it is an active part of life that can truly help others.

Conclusion

A common misconception about artists is that they are only a voice, they cannot contribute physically to the modern world. Art, however, has been evolving with the times the same way every other industry has for centuries. Artists have adapted to today’s fast-paced, efficiency-focused mindset. They raise the topic to eager ears, find creative ways to asses the problem and act as emotional and mental support to those in need all the while.

– Eleanora Kamerow
Photo: Flickr

Programs Aiding Women in Vietnam

Too many Vietnamese women find themselves locked into a life of abuse and poverty, with no skills or access to education to become gainfully employed. One example lies in the story of Sung Thi Sy. Sy resides in the Sa Phin village in the Dong Van District of Vietnam. According to the Asia News Network, her family lived in severe poverty for much of her life and she constantly lived in fear of her husband who would regularly abuse her. She considered running away, but she was worried about providing for her two young children. However, thanks to the support of a locally-funded program, Sy and her children are now thriving. There are many other programs aiding women in Vietnam including the following.

3 Programs Aiding Women in Vietnam

  1. Education and Training: One of the most well-known organizations that work to solve this problem is the Vietnamese Women’s Union (VWU). Founded in 1930, the VWU originally found roles for women during the liberation of Vietnam from French colonialism. After the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, the VWU focused on helping women rebuild their lives by pulling them out of poverty and introducing them to the workforce. Today, the VWU has more than 19 million members that constantly work towards gender equality for Vietnamese women. The VWU offers loans to help poor Vietnamese women afford a higher education and training programs to provide the skills needed to find higher-paying careers.
  2. Agriculture: Women in the Dong Van district of Vietnam face a high risk of human trafficking and domestic violence and an unpredictable climate with barren land which makes farming a challenge. One of the programs aiding women in Vietnam with these struggles is the Lanh Trang (White Flax) Agricultural and Forestry Services Cooperative. Launched in 2017, the program works to provide vocational skills for disadvantaged women and invests in the necessary equipment to grow and harvest flax for the women in the Dong Van area. Since its inception, the Lanh Trang Cooperative has created stable jobs for 95 women, including Sung Thi Sy, all of whom live on a budget of around $170 to $260 per month.
  3. Entrepreneurship: The United Nations Development Programme launched an initiative dubbed the Economic Empowerment of Ethnic Minority Women via Application of 14.0 to aid women in Vietnam through entrepreneurship. This initiative creates an online platform in which Vietnamese women can learn modern financial solutions, take online courses on creating a business, obtain new technology for production and many more services.

Today, Sung Thi Sy has a job in the production of flaxseed products and brings home a consistent paycheck to feed her children and preserve the roof above their heads. Women like Sy are living proof that with enough funding, programs like these can promote tangible improvements in the fight against poverty and inequality in Vietnam.

– Charles Nettles
Photo: Flickr

South Africa's Unemployment
South Africa’s unemployment rate is witnessing some of its worst times since 2008. Formal jobs are seeing a major downturn and many families within the country are suffering from larger amounts of poverty as a result. Despite these trying times, there are those who are trying to create opportunities in the face of hardship and help those trying to stand on their own feet through jobs and special education. One example is the fashion designer company OneOfEach and how it is not only creating jobs but showing a blueprint on how to fight South Africa’s unemployment by providing opportunity.

Economic Ups and Downs

South Africa’s economy is actually doing quite well in comparison to many of its neighbors. It has the second largest GDP in all of Africa, as well as having a large working force that has helped the country create the second-largest economy on the continent. Despite these breakthroughs, South Africa is currently undergoing one of its worst unemployment rates since 2008. This has lead to many people questioning how one of the largest economies in Africa can have such a large unemployment rate. The answer is simply lack of jobs and wage inequality.

South Africa has extremely wealthy business owners that own large conglomerates and industries including many labor workers. The problem with this is that the number of people working in labor was and still is far outpacing the number of people creating small businesses and new jobs as a result. South Africa is suffering from a crippling problem that causes a small business to not receive the support it needs to be an accessible venture for those not willing to work in the labor force. Limited job creation stifles job growth as a result.

Strength of Small Business

This is where the company OneOfEach comes in. This is a company that fully displays the culture of South Africa through the designs of clothing and handbags. What started in 2013 as a small business between Pauline Chirume and her daughter, Tamburai Chirume, has evolved into a chain that has 17 stores across the globe. This company stands out not only because of how successful it has been as a small business, but how much it contributes back to the populace. This company has taken it upon itself to make sure others profit from their success to help fight South Africa’s unemployment by providing opportunity.

The Borgen Project interviewed the founder’s daughter to gain more insight into the organization’s operations. Pauline handles the creative side of the business while Tamburai handles the business end of things. Tamburai seeks to heavily involve female youth within the company as she wants to grant them an opportunity which is rare in South Africa. Tamburai mentioned that there are fewer opportunities for women to work in South Africa, which makes it especially difficult for single mothers. Tamburai seeks to employ women and single mothers so that they receive a stable income and job security. These women are also able to gain knowledge that can help them in the future and furthers the cause of fighting unemployment.

OneOfEach has several workshops where it teaches young girls how to manufacture items. These girls are all under the age of 35 and most of them come from poverty-stricken areas, including women’s shelters. The girls that receive training learn how to create items and the basics of the creative process. This is a great boon since most of the girls have never had any experience in retail or fashion design and thus earn a great amount of work experience. Despite all of this, what Tamburai considers one of the greatest accomplishments in her business is the fact that she can give health care to her employees, which is difficult for a small business in South Africa to grant. Tamburai feels that granting health care to her employees is a big step towards them gaining a decent lifestyle. She essentially wants to help these young ladies stand on their own two feet so that eventually they may gain enough education and experience to start small businesses of their own.

Helping the Jobless

Tamburai also notes how she feels that more opportunities like her business need to come into fruition to make a difference in South Africa. She notes that there are 6.7 million unemployed people in the country and she wants to do her part to make sure they have a chance. Tamburai also goes as far as to direct those under her wing to the American Corner, which is an opportunity hub where many can learn about different entrepreneurial possibilities in the country. The co-owner of OneOfEach feels that teaching people how to reach out and create jobs for themselves is one of the more effective ways to help deal with the unemployment rate in South Africa. She fears, however, that unless the government lends more funds and support towards small jobs, the impact will be monetary at best and stagnant at worst.

Tamburai is not incorrect about her observations regarding unemployment, nor should one fault her for trying to help women through her business. While 35 percent of men are out of a job, 43 percent of women are out of a job and having children or being single mothers may exacerbate this. With an unemployment rate of 29 percent which is currently climbing little by little, the country of South Africa has nearly 7 million people that are out of a job. The problem is not getting any better as the employment rate has only increased by 1.4 percent since the first quarter of 2019. If the job market does not include a flood of new jobs then the unemployment rate is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. If some of these young women can make the most out of the tools, skills and experience that Tamburai and her mother have provided, however, they may be able to make a difference in the fight against South Africa’s unemployment.

Collin Williams
Photo: Flickr