Information and news about success stories

Tanzania_Women_Cricket_Africa_sport_female
Historically, cricket in Tanzania has not been a sport played by the nation’s indigenous population. Those with backgrounds from countries with strong cricket programs, such as India and the United Kingdom, traditionally dominated the sport. That demographic has been changing, however, ever since 1999 when Zully Rehemtulla, chairman of the Tanzania Cricket Association, and former player Kazim Nasser became set on bringing cricket to all Tanzanians.

In the initial stages, Rehemtulla estimates that only about 150 people in Tanzania played cricket. He and Nasser decided that it was unacceptable for the sport to not permeate the majority of the country and started to focus their attention on bringing the sport to schools in Dar es Salaam, the capital.

Since then, and after about a century of non-indigenous participation in cricket, the sport has taken off, with Rehemtulla estimating that roughly 15,000 people now play in Tanzania. In August 2013, the International Cricket Council ranked the men’s Tanzanian team at 30th in the world.

Women in Tanzania have joined the game too. Though the Tanzanian women’s cricket team was eliminated from the last two World Cups early into qualification rounds, women’s participation has increased significantly.

Rehemtulla and Nasser state that they run into many barriers, due to Tanzania being one of the most impoverished nations in the world, when attempting to boost the participation of adolescent girls in cricket.

Moreover, they state that when girls become teenagers in Tanzania, their families put pressure on them to get jobs and contribute to family income. In order to offset this hurdle, the pair began offering services to girls who wanted to start playing cricket. They offered housing, HIV and malaria awareness classes, as well as, of course, cricket coaching to make them better players and in the future, effective coaches themselves.

The results of this program were very successful, with women not only continuing to play cricket, but also with many attending universities and maintaining lucrative jobs. Nasser and Rehemtulla report that many of the girls in the program are now financially comfortable and can make up to five times as much as low-wage workers in Tanzania.

Nasser explains that he and Rehemtulla have gotten to know the girls in the program and can serve as mentors and aid in their future development.

“We have spent five years with them so we try to do what is best for them. We train them so they get employment instead of going to work as house maids.” Furthermore, he states, “We as an association tried to give them classes and pay the school fees. We tried our best to help them to ensure they have better lives in the future.”

Cricket is also growing in other African nations. There has, for instance, been increased financial investment in cricket programs, including plans to build a new cricket stadium in Rwanda, largely to support the development of its new women’s team. Cricket has already become the second most popular sport in South Africa, whose men’s team, the Proteas, is globally competitive and whose amateur women’s team is gaining recognition.

Though the Tanzanian women’s team has not made it to the cricket World Cup, Tanzania has participated in a World Cup event. In 1975, Tanzanian athletes competed as a part of an East Africa team that included Uganda, Zambia and Kenya.

Tanzania is still far from achieving its goal of having premier, globally-recognized cricket teams, but with programs supporting female athletes and an increased investment in cricket and cricketers, one day Tanzania could prove its athletic prowess.

Kaylie Cordingley

Sources: BBC Sport, AllAfrica
Photo: BBC News

Not_Impossible_Fund
The impetus for the trail-blazing Not Impossible Foundation took place when Mick Ebeling befriended the gifted street artist Tony “Tempt One” Quan, who was suffering from the onset of Lou Gehrig’s disease. Lou Gehrig’s would eventually paralyze his entire body, stripping Tempt of his ability to communicate through artistic expression or any other means of expression other than the careful movement of his eyes.

Moved by the tragedy of Tempt’s situation, Ebeling recruited a team of talented individuals from Graffiti Research Lab, Free Art and Technology Lab and other hackers to create a device that would enable Tempt to create artwork again. In April 2009, after seven years of laborious research, experimentation and refinement, Ebeling and his team presented Tempt with their creation, the EyeWriter. The EyeWriter is an astonishingly innovative device that allows paralyzed individuals to communicate using only his or her eyes.

Recounting his perseverance in creating the EyeWriter, Ebeling said, “When I feel a spark, I commit wholly to the idea, without necessarily having a sense of how, or if, I will be able to complete it…when presented with a challenge, I find it incredibly hard to back down.”

Not surprisingly, after the launch of the EyeWriter, Ebeling and his team were soon the recipients of multiple honors in the technological world. For instance, Time Magazine honored the device by declaring the EyeWriter as one of the 50 best inventions of 2010. The recognition that Ebeling and his team received after Time’s illustrious title enabled the launch of Ebeling’s next endeavor, the Not Impossible Foundation.

The Not Impossible Foundation provides a self-description so to-the-point and succinct that it is composed of a mere six words. The Foundation Having establishes itself as a technology-oriented lab by breezily describing itself as “technology for the sake of humanity.”

Adhering to the standard of innovation and promise of the 2009’s EyeWriter, Ebeling and his team is tackling the previously impossible by working to create smart canes for the blind along with 3D-printed prosthetic limbs for amputees. The Not Impossible Foundation strives to construct new yet affordable technology to revolutionize healthcare.

– Phoebe Pradhan

Sources: Atlantic Meets Pacific, Not Impossible Labs, Mick Ebeling, BBC
Photo:
Facebook: Not Impossible Fund

top_global_advocates_of_2013
Foreign Policy annually compiles a list of the most prominent global thinkers of the year; to which the “Advocates” category lies among several others. Following is a list of all those honored under this category in 2013:

Mary Jennings Hegar, Zoe Bedell, Colleen Farrell and Jennifer Hunt, “for shattering the brass ceiling”

U.S. defense department announced in early 2013 that women would now be allowed to perform in combat roles, opening the doors to over two hundred thousand new jobs. Although women have been fulfilling these roles for years – particularly in Afghanistan and Iraq – little acknowledgement of this has existed. If a female were to die or get wounded in battle, she would still previously be considered “non-combat” and be ineligible for honors or career promotions. These four women – two of them holders of the Purple Heart – managed to lift the discriminatory restrictions.

Julieta Castellanos, “for fighting the system that killed her son”

Her 22-year old son and his friend were, under unclear circumstances, kidnapped and killed by Honduran police. Ironically, sociologist Castellanos is the founder of a crime statistics institute: the death of her son served as another addition to the list of countless killings in Honduras that she’s been compiling. The tragic death has further served as an incentive for Castellanos, who has taken up the fight against corruption in her country. According to her institute, crime rates are expected to drop by 6% this year.

Thant Myint-U, “for shaping Yangon’s future by preserving its past”

The lack of government regulation in Myanmar is a threat for the country’s historical architecture as it is for the less wealthy citizens. Recent development has initiated new industrial projects, reconstructing entire neighborhoods and skyrocketing the cost of living. Myint-U – the grandson of a former U.N. Secretary – has started an organization to prevent this.

Alexey Davydov, Igor Kochetkov, “for fighting Russia’s state-sponsored homophobia”

Going against the recent infamous law which bans homosexual propaganda in Russia, Davydov showcased in July a sign that read “being gay is normal” during a protest. Becoming the first individual to be arrested as a consequence of this law, Davydov led another protest in September before dying of kidney failure at age 36. Kochetkov, chairman of the Russian LGBT network, has been documenting violent and unfair cases against members of the group, including that of Davydov’s.

Other prominent names on the list (more in-depth descriptions of their accomplishments can be found on the official Foreign Policy website):

Urvashi Butalia, Kavita Krishnan – “for exposing the roots of India’s rampant sexual violence.”

Fatou Bensouda – “for prosecuting the world’s worst criminals.”

Navi Pillay – “for refusing to let the world forget the human toll of Syria’s crisis.”

Xu Zhiyong – “for promoting people power as an antidote to corruption.”

Malala Yousafzai – “for wielding uncommon courage and wisdom.”

Farea Al-Muslimi – “for appealing to the better angels of U.S. foreign policy.”

Hossam Bahgat, Heba Morayef – “for holding past to the promise of Egypt’s revolution.”

– Natalia Isaeva

Sources: Foreign Policy, New York Times, QuestiaE, L.A. Times
Photo: Washington Post

Broadway
Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz had already solidified their fame and fortune in the acting world before their 2013 hit on Broadway.  The pair starred in Harold Pinter’s play ‘Betrayal,’ which earned an impressive $17.5 million in only 14 weeks.  Though the play itself was not fawned over by critics, the opportunity to see the married couple on stage drew so many individuals that the play became the year’s second highest grossing play on Broadway.  Nora Ephron’s play ‘Lucky Guy’ held the top position, garnering $23 million in 18 weeks.  The duo is known for its humanitarian work, so how does their recent gig stack up to their causes?

One of Weisz’s focuses is the World Food Programme, for whom she appears in a short promotional video.  The United Nations organization published a projection of 2013 needs for emergency programs, topping $1.45 billion.  The West African sector was projected to require just over $81 million for Ghana, Liberia, and regional refugees and displaced persons due to instability in Mali.  The play’s $17.5 million is just short of 25 percent of the entire projected need of West Africa.

Meanwhile, Craig supports the Afghanistan Relief Organization (ARO.)  The ARO works to provide direct assistance to Afghanis who need it, with a range of programs including Infant Care Kits, Teacher Training, and a Greenhouse Project that provides seeds to farmers and food to the hungry.  The organization’s 2006 total expenses were $189,629.  The Broadway play’s earnings could provide the ARO with 92 more years of services at the same cost, or exponentially increase the operating budget and thus provide more, and higher quality services to more people.

The play’s 14 weeks on Broadway earned more money than most individuals in the world will earn in their lifetimes, and more money than some humanitarian organizations will spend in their existence.  It is safe to say any of Weisz’s or Craig’s favorite humanitarian causes would be thrilled to receive $17.5 million to further their aims.

Katey Baker-Smith

Sources: Afghan Relief, World Food Programme
Photo: SMS Gif

somali_woman_textile_business
Qani Abdi Alin is an entrepreneur and the founder of Dheeman Enterprise, a small textile business operating in Hargeisa, Somalia. Beginning in 2009 Alin and two of her closest friends, in an act of supreme courage, opened a dress-making shop in downtown Hargeisa with no prior knowledge of tailoring. The women had never worked with a sowing machine, and the one that they did invest in did not contain an instruction booklet in a language they were familiar with. After wrestling with the indecipherable handbook for days, Alin and her colleagues were able to teach themselves to sow using the only understandable part of the manual:  the visual diagrams. Luckily, the diagrams were clear enough to teach Alin basic sowing skills, allowing her to start production on a line of dresses which she describes as “dresses designed by women for women.”

In 2012, Dheeman Enterprises was one of thirteen small businesses selected from a pool of 300 in Somalia to be the recipient of a matching grant from USAID’s Partnership for Economic Growth. The grant provided a total of $1 million in funding to the recipients, a portion of which was delegated to Alin and her partners.  In a poverty-stricken area like Somalia, this type of backing is virtually nonexistent. The USAID assistance has helped Alin expand her staff and diversify the services of her company in unimaginable ways.

Today, Dheeman produces hospital gowns and wedding dresses in addition to the more commonplace “fashion dresses” that she began making in 2009. The grant has truly broadened the scope of Alin’s initial vision; from a small shop offering one specific commodity, to a larger and more efficient corporation with the potential to become a significant business power in Hargeisa.

Lastly, Adin and her associates are women operating competitively in a place where men dominate the culture as well as the textile industry.  This reflects a more global problem in which women are at a gross disadvantage in the business arena. In the words of the Global Poverty Project, “[w]omen make up half the world’s population and yet represent a staggering 70% of the world’s poor. We live in a world in which women living in poverty face gross inequalities and injustice from birth to death. From poor education to poor nutrition to vulnerable and low pay employment, the sequence of discrimination that a woman may suffer during her entire life is unacceptable but all too common.”

In supporting entrepreneurs like Alin, the United States is taking a progressive stance on the rights of women, communicating the importance of female empowerment to the economic development of Somalia and the whole of East Africa.

– Josh Forgét

Sources: USAID: Somali Small-Business Boom, USAID: Somaliland Private Sector Grant, The Global Poverty Project, The Guardian

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It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the many challenges facing our modern world or to think that change is hard, if not impossible, to achieve. However, young people around the world are challenging these beliefs, becoming advocates for everything from peace to education to disaster relief. Below are five young men and women who have committed themselves to making a difference around the world:

1. Emmanuel Jal

A former child soldier, Emmaneul Jal grew up during the Second Sudanese Civil War, entering the ranks of 10,000 other child soldiers at age seven. Jal eventually escaped from the soldier’s camp and began a new life as a refugee. Today, Jal is a well-known rap artist, who uses his music to spread messages about peace.  Along with music, Jal has participated in a number of peace campaigns, becoming an advocate for justice in his home country and around the world.

2. Malala Yousafzai

A local advocate for women’s education, Malala Yousafzai was on he way home from school at the age of 15 when she was shot in the head by the Taliban. Following her recovery, Malala became an international figure, highly influential in the fight for women’s rights, both in Pakistan and around the globe.  This year, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize; her book “I am Malala” is a bestseller.

3. Ana Dodsen

At the age of three, Ana Dodsen was adopted from a Peruvian orphanage by an American couple, who brought Dodsen back to the U.S. Seven years later, Dodsen visited her home country. Moved by the poverty she saw there, Dodsen decided to become an advocate for Pervuian orphans. Today, the 20 year old women oversees the Peruvian Hearts Organization, which works to provide supplies and support to children in Peru.

4. Ashley Shuyler

At 16 years old, Ashely Shuyler founded an organization called AfricAid. AfricAid’s mission is to improve education for girls in Africa. Since the organization’s founding in 2001, Shuyler and team have raised over $700,000 to support their goal of improved education in Africa.

5. Bilaal Rajan

Now 16, Bilaal Rajan has helped raised a significant amount of money for a number of global issues. He’s advocated for disaster relief, HIV/AIDS orphans and poorly funded schools. At age eight, Rajan was made an official UNICEF ambassador.

– Chante Owens

Sources: Fusion, Huffington Post, Emmanuel Jal
Photo: TZ-Online

Asian baby
The Millennium Development Goals (MDG) of the United Nations and its partners consist of eight goals. Goal number four, Reduce Child Mortality Rates by 2015, has seen some success in the past decade. Children in impoverished countries die every year from things that can easily be prevented by means of vaccination, having mosquito nets, being properly nourished or receiving visits from health care professionals, to name just a few.

For instance, Cambodia has created support groups for breastfeeding mothers. These support groups teach women the importance of exclusive and immediate breastfeeding when the infant is born.  Such groups also teach mothers the negative effects that rise from giving infants contaminated water. Having access to these groups and teaching practices have dramatically reduced child mortality rates in the region.  Breastfeeding is one of the most cost effective things women from poverty stricken countries can do to keep babies nourished through infancy. Cost effective programs like ones in Cambodia have proven effective at reducing child mortality.

In Egypt, 97% of infants and children are immunized against six deadly diseases, which through diarrhea and other sicknesses, cause 40% of deaths among children.  Unfortunately, malnutrition is still a steady problem and children continue to die.

In the last decade malaria mortality rates have seen a 25% reduction globally. However, even with this reduction a child dies every minute from the disease. The distribution and aid for insecticidal mosquito nets is a must in reducing child mortality.

Children with access to health care professionals are usually given a better chance at survival. As an example, Ethiopia has reduced its child mortality rate with this practice.

There are several successes to show the efforts of MDGs. However, there is still a long way to go in order to reach the 2015 deadline. In 2012, alone, 6.6 million children died from these preventable illnesses and many others. Furthermore, most of these children came from developing countries.  Such numbers of deaths should not be acceptable, instead, zero should to be the number attached to child mortality. Aid from many wealthy governments will go a long way in ending the suffering that these 6 million children partake in every year across the globe.

– Amy Robinson

Sources: UNICEF, Child Info
Photo: Foto Stamina

sima_samar
Throughout its modern history, extraordinary women have come to the forefront as defenders of human rights in Afghanistan. From the invasion of the USSR in 1979 through the rise of the Taliban in the late 90’s and the occupation by the United States in 2001, one woman in particular has made significant strides in working with women and girls in Afghanistan.

Sima Samar is a Hazara human rights activist from Central Afghanistan. Since the death of her husband in 1979 at the hands of the Soviets and her subsequent fleeing to Pakistan, Samar has worked to better the state of education for women and girls in Afghanistan. Samar’s non-profit, the Shuhada Organization, founded 55 primary schools in the central regions of Afghanistan that, surprisingly, managed to survive through the rule of the Taliban in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. After the fall of the Taliban, Shuhada established several private schools in Kabul.

Today, Samar is the chairperson of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), where she continues to work for the betterment of conditions for women and girls in her home country. According to the Shuhada website, “she (Samar) oversees the conduct of human rights education programs across Afghanistan, the implementation of a nationwide women’s rights education program, and monitoring and investigation of human rights abuses across the country.” The AIHRC is furthermore, the first human rights commission in the history of Afghanistan.

From 2001-2002, Samar was the Deputy Chair and Minister of Women’s Affairs for the Interim Government of Afghanistan, making her one of two women to serve in the administration. Samar’s influence, however, is not confined to Afghanistan. From 2005-2009, she was the United Nations special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights for Sudan, during which time she presented a report to the UN General Assembly on the progress and challenges of human rights in that beleaguered country. Although the future of Afghanistan is indeterminate, one thing is for certain: Sima Samar will continue to facilitate the education of women and girls in her country. In Samar’s words, “More and more women now have access to education and positions of power and are trying to influence policy. This has made a remarkable difference over the last decade. Obviously, a lot more needs to be done but we have a good beginning.”

– Josh Forgét

Sources: The Shuhada Organization, New York Times
Photo: Forbes

Farming_in_the_Slums
As the migration of people from rural areas to cities intensifies, the number of people living in slums are growing exponentially. According to the U.N.’s Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, there are currently more than 200,000 slums, shanty towns and informal settlements around the world. Prior even to the global economic crisis of 2008, nearly a third of all city dwellers lived in slums. This number continues to grow dramatically; there will be one billion more people living in slums within the next twenty years.

One of the primary concerns facing the astonishing proportion of the global population living in impoverished slum communities is food security. Given this, farming within slum communities offers huge benefits. Being able to produce food not only makes slum populations less dependent on government and NGO subsidies and aid but makes them less vulnerable to the fluctuating prices of the global food market. Further, small-scale urban farming provides occupational and entrepreneurial opportunities, often to women who would otherwise have none.

Urban farming can also improve health by supplying healthier food options which would otherwise be too expensive to eat. Finally, urban farming enhances climate change resilience by reducing the environmental costs of mass agricultural production and distribution.

The benefits of small-scale farming in slums are potentially massive. But urban agriculture also faces a number of challenges. Contaminated soil from the rampant pollution omnipresent in slums is often an issue. There can also be a total lack of available land. Cramped conditions contribute to a lack of sunlight. Water availability and quality can also be limited.

Given these limitations, how does one farm in a slum? Here are four real-world slum farming operations:

1. “Farm-in-a-sack” projects, Nairobi: One project, begun by the Italian organizations Cooperazione Internazionale (COOPI,) doles out seedlings to families in Nairobi’s Mathare slum. COOPI brought in rural agricultural experts to educate community groups on how to farm vegetables in slums and handed out one sack and 43 seedlings to each family participating in the project. The vegetables are ready within a few weeks and the plants can be harvested multiple times over the course of a year. Not only do the newly minted urban farmers gain additional nutrients, any surplus can be sold for a profit. Similar projects in Nairobi’s Kibera slum also see great success. According to Map Kibera Trust, sack farming increases weekly household income by at least $5 per week and adds two to three meals a week-massive gains in a slum notorious for its crushing impoverishment.

2. Harnessing technology to farm in Neza-Chalco-Itza, Mexico City: The Neza-Chalco-Itza slum in Mexico City is the largest in the world with an estimated four million people. Thus, creative food solutions are crucial to the livelihood of the people living there. To that end, ANADEGES, a group of 20 autonomous NGOs in Mexico, developed and orchestrated a project that aims to help people develop their own capacity to produce organic food from their backyards, patios, and rooftops. Utilizing discarded containers and readily available waste matter, the project has been successful in designing innovative ways for people to grow their own food.

3. Urban agriculture in Bamenda, Cameroon: With a population of more than 900,000 and high food prices, life is not easy for slum dwellers in Bamenda. However, an estimated 5,000 residents have turned to farming in order to supplement their diets and incomes. They utilize backyards, empty lots, roadsides, abandoned corridors and any other available land space to grow tomatoes, cabbages, onions, okra, hot pepper, ginger, and maize. In the words of Richard, a driver by profession who uses farming for food an additional income, “it’s a good experience because it is from the slums that we manage and feed ourselves. And then we feed the other town dwellers.” Finding water for the crops is the major challenge in Bamenda, requiring traveling great distances to retrieve it from swamp areas. The challenge to collect water, however, is well worth it, as Richard says, because farming “is where we earn our own living.”

4. Kibera Youth Reform Organic Farm, Nairobi, Kenya: At an estimated one million residents, Nairobi’s Kibera is considered the largest slum in Africa. In 2008, it had erupted in clashes in the wake of Kenya’s flawed presidential elections which intensified the slum’s already dire food insecurity. Concerned, Su Kahumbu, the managing director of one of Kenya’s pioneer organic produce companies, revolutionized a solution. Working with a group of young, unemployed reformed criminals interested in farming the slum, Kahumbu cleared a half-acre rectangle patch of land that had been piled three feet high with garbage and human waste. Her brother laid down irrigation pipes linked to a water tank and the group added vegetable scrap compost to the plot. Within months, Kenya’s first organic slum farm was producing multiple crops and soon turning a profit, demonstrating its sustainability.

– Kelley Calkins

Sources: Agfax, CNN, International Business Times, IPS, Journey to Forever, World Watch Institute, The Guardian
Photo: World Watch

landfill_harmonic_doc
The world generates about a billion tons of garbage each year. The people who are forced to live with it and live off of it are those in poverty, such as the people of Cateura, Paraguay. The city of Cateura is basically built on top of the city’s main landfill, which receives 1,500 tons of solid waste every day. Though the trash affords many people a living (through selling things they find), it also has a huge negative impact on them. This build up of garbage exposes the city’s impoverished population to extremely unhealthy conditions.

Favio Chavez, a local ecologist who grew up near the area, desired to teach the children of Cateura how to play music. In 2002, he began running a Boys Orchestra in his home village of Carapuengá. He met the children of Cateura when he worked on a waste recycling project at the landfill from 2006-2008. Chavez quickly noticed a huge problem – more than 40 percent of children in the area never finished school because their parents needed them to work.

The initial idea of an orchestra was meant to keep the kids out of trouble and stop them from playing in the piles of trash. What evolved was much more than Chavez had ever bargained for – things began to change. When Chavez noted that the amount of students exceeded the amount of instruments, he got creative. Instruments were made out of items found in the landfill; what was once trash was being turned into something purely beautiful and enriching.

The recycled instruments not only offered a positive solution to the large amount of waste, but also safety for the students carrying them. “For many children, it was impossible to give them a violin to take home because they had nowhere to keep it and their parents were afraid they would be robbed or the instrument would be sold to buy drugs,” said Chavez.

Chavez’s efforts in the city became quite well-known, and soon attracted the interest of Alejandra Nash and Juliana Penaranda-Loftus. The two had been on a research trip in Paraguay in 2009 in order to create a documentary about the impoverished children of the country. Immediately, the two knew that Landfill Harmonic would be their documentary; it could bring light to poverty, child labor, and waste pollution.

“Los Reciclados story instantly took my breath away,” said Nash.

Penaranda-Loftus was equally impressed. “In the summer of 2010, we met the first group of children who were part of the recycled orchestra; those children are now playing with professional orchestras. We have been following this story since then. We went back in 2011 and have gone twice in 2012. Now there is a new group of children that have joined the orchestra. We have witnessed the commitment that Favio Chavez (orchestra director) has towards these children of Cateura, their families and their community. There is a whole social process that happens behind running the orchestra. We have developed very strong ties with them during these years and this is a story that goes way beyond the screen.”

Since then, Nash and Penaranda-Loftus has brought Emmy nominated Director Graham Townsley and the filming crew of “60 Minutes” to Cateura. They are planning to follow the orchestra all over the world and hope to complete post-production of the documentary by the end of this year.

“Our job as filmmakers is to share this remarkable story of creativity, hope, and endurance with the world,” said Penaranda-Loftus. “We also hope to bring awareness to major global themes of our time — poverty and garbage management.”

– Samantha Davis

Sources: Landfill Harmonic Movie, Kickstarter, Washington Post, UNICEF