Kiwanis International Unites Local and Global ActionThink globally, act locally: this sentiment is shared by city planners, activists and businesspeople alike. Worldwide issues can appear so large as to be insurmountable. When a problem’s scale is overwhelming, taking action is a challenge, but small-scale, grassroots actions can make a massive difference over time. The spirit of global thinking and local action is the drive behind Kiwanis International, an international association of clubs that focus on helping children and fighting poverty and disease. The organization’s self-stated mission is to “improve the world by making lasting differences in the lives of children,” a goal which they pursue through community service projects and fundraising campaigns.

History

In 1914, Allen S. Brown and Joseph C. Prance created The Supreme Lodge Benevolent Order Brothers in Detroit, Michigan. This original organization was not focused on community service but on professional networking, a far cry from what it would become. In 1915, the name was changed to Kiwanis, from an Ojibwe expression that the founders translated as “We build,” which is now the organization’s motto. Around the same time, the founders began to pivot toward focusing on community service rather than business. Kiwanis was quick to grow, with chapters soon being formed in Cleveland, Ohio and Hamilton, Ontario. In the 1960s, Kiwanis began to expand outside of North America, and today there are more than 600,000 members in eighty nations and geographic areas.

Youth Activity

Many members of Kiwanis clubs are youth — the overarching Kiwanis organization includes K-Kids for elementary school children, Key Club for high-school students and Circle K International (CKI) for college-aged members, all of which focus on leadership skills and service projects. CKI has an established partnership with UNICEF, raising money for UNICEF’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) project. CKI’s work with WASH focuses on Haiti, and in the past three fiscal years, CKI has raised more than $58,000 for WASH. CKI clubs also do locally-focused projects, like volunteering at food banks to help feed the poor or decorating trash cans in order to discourage littering.

CKI’s work is an excellent demonstration of Kiwanis’ overall strategy: clubs organize their own projects based on local needs, while the larger organization tackles large-scale issues, primarily through fundraising. Kiwanis International recognizes both that individual communities have their own needs and that some problems are global. The organization reports that its clubs host nearly 150,000 service projects each year.

International Projects

The Kiwanis International website lists winners, runners-up and other submissions for their yearly Signature Project Recognition Program and Contest, which recognizes Kiwanis clubs doing great work around the world. For example, the Kiwanis Club of Bendigo, Australia, has a book box program inspired by low literacy rates in the community. The Kiwanis Club of Taman Sentosa in Malaysia runs the Kiwanis Careheart Centre, which offers vocational training and support services to people with intellectual disabilities.

Other projects are larger in scale, such as Threads Across the Pacific, an initiative financially supported by several Kiwanis clubs from New Zealand. Threads Across the Pacific donates sewing machines and other sewing supplies to women in Vanuatu and trains them in sewing, with the goal of helping them pull themselves out of poverty. Projects like these are still regional and focused on the needs of specific communities, unlike Kiwanis’ organization-wide initiatives, meant to combat large-scale, global issues.

One of the international projects Kiwanis International has worked on concerns maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT). According to the World Health Organization (WHO), MNT has been “among the most common life-threatening consequences of unclean deliveries and umbilical cord care practices,” and in 1988, approximately 787,000 newborns died of neonatal tetanus. In areas with sub-par maternal healthcare, MNT is a serious threat to new mothers and their babies.

In 2010, Kiwanis International partnered with UNICEF in an effort to fight MNT through vaccinations for women and newborns. Kiwanis pledged to raise $110,000,000 for the project, with clubs around the world hosting fundraisers to contribute to the effort. The project involved vaccinations in fifty-nine countries, and as of July 2019, MNT had been eliminated in forty-six of them. In this context, “elimination” is taken to mean that MNT affects fewer than 0.1 percent of births.

Kiwanis International differs from other organizations in its commitment to empower communities to identify local problems and work toward solving them, without losing sight of the bigger picture. After all, who better to identify problems that trouble a community than the people who live in that community? Kiwanis supports grassroots actions by teaching leadership skills and organizational planning to members through online and in-person training. In turn, Kiwanis clubs support the larger initiatives of Kiwanis International to effect change around the world. This approach to nonprofit organizational structure makes has made Kiwanis projects particularly impactful.

– Meredith Charney
Photo: Wikipedia

Fighting Poverty
Bettering the world seems like a broad concept to discuss or even think about, and that’s because it is. There are many ways to improve the way people live, whether it’s picking up trash or volunteering at a local food kitchen. The opportunities appear limitless, but narrowing them down is a great place to start the journey. Specifically, fighting poverty can be one goal to set in mind which has plenty of jumping-off points. Below are just a few ideas, organizations and nonprofits anyone can participate in if they want to lend a hand to the greater good.

Donating

When imagining charity or volunteer work, the very first thought is often donation. It can be a simple and easy way of fighting poverty. The best part is the donor gets to pick the charity, and thus, the effect they wish to make. For instance, if someone wants to improve access to water in underdeveloped nations, they could donate to The Thirst Project. This nonprofit is an organization that aims to provide water to impoverished nations.

While this is one example of providing aid, there are plenty of other companies with different focuses that could always use the aid. Additionally, the donation doesn’t necessarily have to be monetary; other companies accept food, clothes, toys, household items—anything that might be useful to a family or person in need.

Volunteering Locally

Donating is easy, but volunteering is fun. Volunteer work is available in nearly every part of the globe in some shape or form. As a result, these opportunities can vary depending on the season, location and amount of time one would like to spend. For instance, local foods banks, food pantries, soup kitchens and other meal programs pop up all over the world. They allow the volunteer to get involved directly by providing food to those who can’t afford it otherwise. These projects can provide nourishment in various ways, from full and hot meals to canned goods or groceries.

Volunteers usually find work as laborers within the location, often in the form of food servers. The most popular name associated with food banks is Feeding America, a nationwide nonprofit which is a direct purveyor to these food banks. The company also helps to organize the volunteers by guiding them toward local locations through the Feeding America website. The work is a well-appreciated way of fighting poverty, as one full belly is a step closer to improving an underprivileged life.

Volunteering Globally

While volunteering locally is wonderful, it’s often more rewarding if it’s taken out of the locale and put into the global frame of work. It might require more time and effort, but it can have an even greater impact. By sending volunteers to countries in need, nonprofit organizations improve community development through infrastructure construction, meal programs and health centers. Common names of the industry include UNICEF, the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders—just to name a few. These organizations run on donations and governmental funding, which allows them to have a larger global stance and allows volunteers to have the bigger role of direct involvement and assistance. This is seen with Doctors Without Borders, which sends medical professionals to areas in need.

From a single dollar to a single brick, every ounce of effort helps a cause. While these are just a few ideas to launch a career of good deeds, there are plenty more out there. Searching the internet, local communities and simply listening to the concerns of others can lead anyone to a great opportunity. Anyone and everyone can—and should—take a moment to explore their place in bettering the world and find a way to fight poverty.

– Eleanora Kamerow
Photo: Pixabay

Volunteers to Build Homes
Hundreds of thousands of families in developing countries struggle to keep a roof over their heads or lack one altogether. Shelter is a critical part of a stable community and life. It has been directly linked with better, healthier and financially stable lives.

Several organizations are enlisting volunteers to build homes for communities and families in need. Spanning from a few days to several weeks, the trips are flexible and affordable creating multiple opportunities to give back. Rather than simply donating to organizations, volunteering physically allows a person to be a direct part of the change. Below is a list of the top five organizations enlisting volunteers to build homes.

Build Abroad

Build Abroad is a nonprofit with a focus on construction volunteering. The organization builds and repairs homes, schools and communities with the help of volunteers. Two friends founded the organization in 2010, as they wanted to combine their love for travel and architecture to serve developing countries. Build Abroad strives to build better infrastructure in order to impact communities for years to come. It has programs in six countries with plans to expand by two countries every year, according to its website. The organization’s volunteer trips range from one week to six months.

1 Mission

1 Mission organizes short-term trips in order to create long-term impacts. The organization is, “A community development organization giving people in poverty the opportunity to earn a house by serving their community,” according to its website. 1 Mission has successfully built 847 home for people and families in need. They organize short, three-day trips, which allows volunteering to be convenient for anyone.

The organization currently works in Nicaragua, Mexico and El Salvador, having affordable trips starting at $280 per person. J.D. Cavness, a 22-year-old, volunteered with 1 Mission in October 2018, where he helped build a three bedroom house in just three short days for a family in need along with other volunteers. During an Interview with The Borgen Project, J.D. reflected saying, “It was super rewarding and cool to give a family a home that they can live in and raise their own family in.” After experiencing the trip himself, he explained how he would recommend it to anyone, especially since volunteering does not require building experience.

Habitat For Humanity

Habitat For Humanity is an international nonprofit housing organization working throughout the communities of 70 different countries. Habitat’s vision is, “of a world where everyone has a decent place to live,” according to its website.

The organization’s team and volunteers work in home construction, neighborhood revitalization, disaster response and financial education. Habitat For Humanity believes affordable housing leads to stable communities. It offers homebuilding trips in nearly 30 countries around the world with its Global Village Program, as well as local trips to build in the U.S. Since the nonprofit’s founding, it has helped more than 22 million people build or improve their homes.

International Volunteer HQ

International Volunteer HQ emerged in 2007 and has grown to become one of the leading volunteer organizations with over 40 global destinations. The nonprofit strives to create affordable, safe and quality volunteer trips fostering long-term community goals in countries around the world. The organization offers several different project options to choose from.

Specifically, its construction and renovation volunteer abroad projects include building, renovating and improving infrastructure in local communities. International Volunteer HQ has construction volunteer trip durations ranging from one to 24 weeks long. International Volunteer HQ believes, “In a future where any traveler, anywhere in the world is empowered to make a meaningful difference in the community they are visiting,” according to its website.

Global Vision International

Global Vision International (GVI) has been offering volunteer abroad opportunities since 1998. GVI runs various programs throughout 13 different countries. The nonprofit centers its projects around making a sustainable, positive and long-lasting impact. GVI uses the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as a framework for its objectives.

GVI offers construction volunteer trips to lay foundations in developing countries for years to come. The construction project locations range from Fiji, South Africa, Thailand, Costa Rica and more. The goal of the construction projects is to, “Work to build or improve key infrastructure, and thereby, improve the communities’ access to healthcare, education and children’s development,” according to the organization’s website.

These organizations give people a means to act whether they have a history of construction or limited time. The top five organizations enlisting volunteers to build homes allow anyone to be a part of improving lives.

– Savannah Huls

Photo: Flickr

Top Five Most Generous Countries in the World
Each year, the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) publishes the World Giving Index, highlighting the most generous countries in the world pertaining to how they respond to polls and research conducted by Gallup.

According to the 2018 Index, the most important questions were: In the past month, have you helped a stranger or someone you didn’t know who needed help? Donated money to a charity? Volunteered your time to an organization?

Top Five Most Generous Countries in the World

CAF tallies the scores and produces rankings for each. In the article below, CAF’s top five most generous countries in 2018 are presented.

5. Ireland

The Irish received high marks in helping a stranger and donating money, as 64 percent of pollsters saying yes to doing both in the last month, but only 40 percent affirmed that they had volunteered their time, bringing them down to fifth.

This ranking marks a three-spot improvement from 2017’s World Giving Index when the country came in at number eight.

Another interesting aspect of charity and giving in Ireland is the Charities Regulator organization. Under Ireland’s Charities Act 2009, the organization is an independent authority, appointed by the Minister of Justice whose key functions are to “establish and maintain a register of charitable organizations operating in Ireland and ensure their compliance with the Charities Acts.”

The Charities Regulator regulates the charity sector to ensure no malpractice or gross negligence on part of the charities and nonprofits operating in the country.

4. United States of America

The U.S. comes in at number four this year, a one spot improvement from last year’s index. Similar to Ireland, the U.S. received high marks in the helping a stranger and donating money categories, at 72 percent and 61 percent respectively. However, only a mere 39 percent of people said they volunteered their time.

Though the U.S. comes in at number four this year, they are number two on CAF’s five-year average list.

It’s important to note that only around 1 percent of the U.S. budget goes to foreign assistance, so even though the citizens of the country should be proud of themselves, there is still a lot of work to do to alleviate poverty around the world.

3. New Zealand

Coming in at number three on the list of the most generous countries in the world is an island country in the southwest Pacific, New Zealand. This is a one-spot bump for New Zealand from landing at fourth in 2017.

Over 65 percent of New Zealanders say they helped a stranger in the past month, while 68 percent donated money. Only 40 percent of New Zealand’s population mentions volunteering their time. New Zealand comes in at number three in CAF’s five-year average index as well.

2. Australia

The runner-up on the list of most generous countries in the world is New Zealand’s neighbor, Australia. Almost 65 percent of people from the country helped out a stranger, 71 percent donated money and 40 percent of them donated their time.

The number two spot represents a four-spot jump for the country from 2017. Like the other nations on the list, Australia is ranked in the top ten for the five-year average index as well, landing in the number four spot behind their neighbor, New Zealand.

Like Ireland, Australia has an organization devoted to monitoring and aiding charities and nonprofits called the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC).

Unlike Ireland’s Charities Regulator, however, the ACNC is endorsed and operates under the Australian government.

The ACNC helps the 56,650 registered Australian charities understand and meet their obligations to the public through information, advice and guidance. They also help the public understand the work of the nonprofit sector and offer a free searchable database of all Australian charities.

1. Indonesia

While only 46 percent of Indonesian residents say they helped a stranger in the last month, a whopping 78 percent say they donated money and 53 percent say they volunteered their time, making Indonesia the only country in CAF’s top 20 to break the 50 percent mark in this category.

The number one spot represents a one-spot raise from last year’s rankings where the country was number two, behind only Myanmar. Indonesia ranks seventh in the index’s five-year average.

It could be expected to see countries like the United States and Australia toward the top of the list. These countries are quite wealthy, but perhaps the most astonishing thing about Indonesia coming in number one is that the country is quite poor. Despite having a steady economy and labor force, 40 percent of the country lives below the poverty line, making their number one ranking even more impressive and inspiring.

These five nations listed in the article as the most generous countries provide a good example for other countries to increase their work in helping the people in need and eradicating world poverty.

– Nick Hodges

Photo: Flickr

Volunteer
Throughout the United States and Europe, voluntourism, as a combination of tourism and volunteering, has been on the rise. Students are dedicating their free summers and vacations to go abroad to help communities and organizations in bettering their infrastructure and spreading awareness of their individual causes. As in any other form of tourism, voluntourism has undoubtedly its downsides, yet it is important to shed light on its benefits. Voluntourism, if done properly, can benefit communities and organizations, and for the volunteer, it creates a cultural awareness that would not be achieved otherwise. The key to voluntarism is sustainability, and if done in a sustainable way, the benefits of voluntourism are many.

Fixable cons of voluntourism

One of the greatest issues facing the voluntourism sector is the level of qualifications that the volunteers have. Many negative representations of voluntourism depict underqualified students working in health clinics or orphanages, fields that require years of specific qualifications. This can certainly be cause for concern. However, it is important to note the benefits as well. Internships abroad are often seen as opportunities for voluntourism. Internships require a certain level of qualifications which ensures that the student or person who volunteers has a certain degree of skill in the required field. This allows the intern to further their understanding of the field in a new culture, while simultaneously having a positive impact on the industry. For example, South Africa has an uneven distribution of doctors as for every 1000 person there is less than one doctor available. Many of these doctors work in the private sector. This has created a need for international medical interns. Read more

Mandela
Nelson Mandela is known internationally for his great activism for equal rights for all. Mandela was a South African political leader, beginning his career as a lawyer determined to free his fellow black Africans.

July of 2018 marked his centennial, and though he may no longer be alive, his legacy continues on. His anti-apartheid revolution improved levels of poverty in Africa, and his words of inspiration will forever impact others: “Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings.”

The Nelson Mandela Foundation

Today, many people still celebrate Nelson Mandela’s work through the Nelson Mandela Foundation. Barack Obama recently gave a speech in celebration of Mandela, encouraging philanthropists everywhere to honor his work. Celebrities like Oprah, Jay-Z, Usher, Ed Sheeran and others are coming together to put on a concert for the Mandela 100 Fest in South Africa.

For those interested in celebrating Mandela, there are several ways to get involved. Action occurs at three levels:

  • Having the humanitarian mindset to care for supporting poverty in Africa
  • Being willing to communicate that concern and the need for aid
  • Finally jumping into action to provide the hands-on work.

Here are the most impactful ways to follow in Nelson Mandela’s legacy and help alleviate poverty in Africa.

6 Ways to Alleviate Poverty in Africa

  1. Believe in Humanity. Before one can bring about change and support for equality and basic human rights for all, the mindset has to exist. It is crucial to truly believe that all humans are deserving of the same dignity and respect. No cultural group is less human than another. Find commonality in humanity and advocate for justice in all corners of the Earth.
  2. Support Democracy. Democracy is the form of government that is ruled by elected officials in which members of the political boundary or state have been given the power to elect. Democracy means that everyone has a voice; thus, less oppression is allowed to take place. Though Africa as a continent is moving toward democracy, some countries remain oppressed, especially those in extreme poverty in rural areas. By supporting democracy in Africa, corruption and widespread violence can be eliminated.
  3. Empowerment. Being oppressed means that your voice isn’t being heard and that you are part of a marginalized, automatically disadvantaged group. The situation often seems hopeless when you are treated as insignificant. Any support for poverty in Africa is helpful, but when individuals feel empowered, minds expand and spirits rise. Be a part of lifting people up to feel empowered to seek out basic human rights — health, education, equality and social justice.
  4. Educate Yourself. With so many ways to access current events, it is fairly simple to stay current on global news. In developed nations, internet access is readily available to almost all persons. Take it upon yourself to seek out the facts and stay informed. Read the newspapers, subscribe to newsletters through your email or on your smartphone, or even search the internet for international happenings. It is important to be aware of credible sources versus not, so that you don’t fall victim to unnecessary hysteria. Another part of being informed about foreign affairs is to know who your public officials are as well as what policies exist for poverty in Africa — both pending in status and already in place.
  5. Dialogue. Don’t underestimate the power of communication. Poverty is a gruesome reality in Africa and many other underdeveloped nations. In a busy day-to-day life, there are many social interactions with people in social and professional circles. Many of these people will be aware of what is going on, and many will not. If people are having the conversations about poverty in Africa, its ramifications and how the U.S. as a leading global country can help, then the more likely it is for social action to ensue.
  6. Volunteer Your Time. Individuals in America and other developed nations can help alleviate poverty in foreign lands without having to travel or donate money. You can make a difference by taking action. Simple acts like calling your representative or sending an email can help bring attention to foreign aid. If time allows, meet with that representative to discuss the importance of supporting poverty in Africa. Contribute to an organization by organizing or volunteering for a fundraiser.

Leave a Mark

Nelson Mandela advocated for citizens of Africa to have the right to education, health, hunger, gender equality, literacy, peace and poverty while also supporting many charities. He has left his mark by not only his influence on political change but also his passionate and relentless motivation of people around the globe.

– Heather Benton

Photo: Flickr

service trips
Every year, colleges and universities in the U.S. send students on service trips to the most impoverished nations on the planet. The students form teams and are sent with the intention of helping in small ways to create lasting impacts in the poor communities. What doesn’t get highlighted is the lasting impact that the poor communities have on the students.

Tyler Neville graduated from Saint Joseph’s College of Maine in 2017 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications. During Neville’s freshman and junior years, he took part in one of the school’s annual service trips. The Borgen Project interviewed Neville about his experiences.

“My main motivation was my desire to travel. Service trips seemed a perfect blend of satisfying that while also managing to do some good for people,” Neville said. While providing aid to Guatemalans, he built a home for a family in need using “very basic construction methods.” Neville said the family was grateful. “They were quick to let us know how appreciative they were of what we were doing.”

Mutual Benefits of Service Trips

Neville’s experience convinced him everyone could benefit from a visit to a third world country. “To see people be so happy, caring, giving and generally wonderful with so much less than anyone I knew is a real eye-opening experience, and one that really changed how I viewed the world.” From his time in Guatemala, Neville formed a bond with the indigenous people strong enough to change his worldview. 

Why Volunteer Abroad?

Sending college students to the world’s most impoverished areas has become a movement. The Huffington Post wrote an article giving tips to prospective student volunteers. It provides service trips as an alternative to the usual winter/spring break activities and lists reasons to get involved. “The main motivator is usually altruistic — it allows you to help a community or cause that can benefit from your support.” The article also listed personal benefits such as improving professional skills, learning about a new culture, making new friends and having fun around the world. 

How to Get Involved

The Huffington Post article ends by giving advice on how to join a team and get involved. Organizations, like Global Volunteers, have begun to seek out college students as volunteers for efforts abroad. Global Volunteers is an international organization that sends volunteers abroad to combat global poverty. 

Saint Joseph’s College features a Student Service Trips tab on its website where students can see how to get involved. It mentions Partners in Development (PID), an organization based in Ipswich, MA that coordinates the teams going abroad. It is not just college students that get involved with PID. Anyone who can afford the cost of airfare and the trip itself can join a team

The service trip movement has gained traction due to its mutually beneficial relationship. Not only are the impoverished people provided with able bodies to help, but the students are provided with a lasting experience that changes their outlook on life and gives them skills that no classroom ever could. Neville said it best; “I believe one of the main goals of college is to expose yourself to varying viewpoints, cultures, opinions and experiences in order to broaden your worldview. The two service trips I was a part of provided all of those things in ample amounts.”

– Zach Farrin
Photo: Flickr

help Guatemala
Currently, in Guatemala, 200 people are missing, 110 people are deceased and more than 1.7 million people have been impacted by the eruption of the Fuego volcano that began on June 3. It was the nation’s most severe volcanic eruption in 45 years and the size of this disaster has compelled many around the world to act.

Images of the volcano’s victims and its devastating impact are easily accessible on social media, as are advocacy and volunteer opportunities. Keep reading for a few examples of how to help Guatemala’s Fuego victims and bring awareness to the crisis.

Advocacy on Social Media

Social media has made advocacy from home possible and is one of the easiest ways to get involved in a cause. Several hashtags have popped up on social media platforms since the eruption began as a way to raise awareness along with fundraising and donation opportunities. With a simple search on Instagram or Twitter for any of the hashtags mentioned below, users can see pictures and updates on life in Guatemala after the volcano.

Examples of popular hashtags include:

  • #PrayForGuatemala
  • #GuatemalaEstoyContigo
  • #TodosPorGuate
  • #VolcanDeFuego
  • #FuerzaGuatemala

Finding Volunteers on Facebook

Another social media site that has offered ways to help Guatemala is Facebook. Beyond matching donations, the Crisis Response page on Facebook for the volcanic eruption has become a way for locals to find and give help. Facebook users can post to the page and list what they are offering or need, their location and how to get in contact with them.

Scrolling through the page shows people offering food, shelter or supplies, requesting help and asking for volunteers in specific locations. What is even more impressive is the number of posts that have already been completed or closed. This is yet another example of a relatively easy and effective way to help victims of Fuego’s eruption.

Red Cross Volunteers Working Hard

The Red Cross, led by the CruzRojaGT or Guatemalan arm of the organization, has been working tirelessly to provide rescue operations and support to Guatemalans. This organization has no intention of leaving soon and is putting long-term plans into place in order to keep helping survivors of this crisis.

The organization administered an emergency appeal to maintain programs in Guatemala to support 6,000 vulnerable people for at least a year. More than two weeks after the initial eruption, there are still 1,600 volunteers helping families evacuated during the eruption.

The American Red Cross is offering help as well, with programs set up to help people find loved ones they may have lost contact with in Guatemala. Beyond donating to the cause, sharing this information and keeping up to date on the current conditions are great ways to get involved with the Red Cross efforts.

Donations Flow In to Help Guatemala

In horrible times of crisis, sometimes the only positives are outpourings of support from the global community. There are many organizations and nonprofits accepting donations to provide help to burn victims, shelters, supplies and future rebuilding. GoFundMe set up a page with verified campaigns aiming to raise money to help Guatemala. Many of these funds were started by Guatemalans or people with ties to the country and some have already raised over $100,000.

This is partially made possible by the thousands of social media users who have used hashtags and posts to bring awareness to these causes and the ongoing impacts of the eruption. After the dust settles in Guatemala, it is important to keep sharing and being advocates for the millions of people impacted by Fuego’s eruption and to bring awareness to this crisis.

– Alexandra Eppenauer
Photo: Flickr

help refugeesJune 20 marked the 18th anniversary of world refugee day. There are currently 68.5 million forcibly displaced people worldwide. Of those millions, 25.4 million people are classified as refugees.

World Refugee Day holds a long history of support for those in need. This day is celebrated in order to give all an opportunity to help refugees and to create a public awareness for millions of lives that are in need of saving.

Since the beginning of World Refugee Day in 2000, the refugee crisis has increased greatly. Growing from 12 million in 2000 to more than 20 million in 2018, refugees can be found seeking shelter in many countries.

The United Nations

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has taken steps to fight the refugee crisis. The UNHCR provides assistance and support to refugees all over the world. Present in 128 countries and 478 locations around the world, the UNHCR is helping those wherever they can.

For example, in Ukraine, the UNHCR is working with the Ukrainian government to help strengthen the asylum system and gives medical, material and social assistance to those refugees and internally displaced people. In Ukraine, there are currently 1,800,000 people who are internally displaced and 3,253 refugees from other countries.

Along with working with the government and giving assistance to those in need, the UNHCR in Ukraine provided 843 homes with winter cash assistance in 2018.

Another recent effort presented by the UNHCR was their assistance in Montenegro. On April 3 the UNHCR paired with the Red Cross and opened the first Community Centre for persons seeking international protection.

Education

The UNHCR doesn’t only just provide physical materials and goods; they also are committed to bringing education to refugees all over the world.

By the end of 2016, the UNHCR had encouraged 64 out of 81 countries to put policies in place to support the inclusion of refugee children in the respective countries education system. After this push, more than 984,000 refugee children were enrolled in primary education.

Of that 984,000 refugee children, 250,000 were not attending school at the time.

How to Help

While the UNHCR is continually working to better the lives of refugees all over the world, there is still plenty of work that can be done on the individual level for refugees. Here are five ways that anyone can get involved no matter where they may be.

  1. Volunteer a skill: Having a specific skill or talent can be used for good to help refugees. Whether knowing how to budget extremely well or how to create a website, there are refugees in local communities who would appreciate learning a new talent or skill to help them with their future endeavors.
  2. Spread awareness: Hold fundraisers, raffles, yard sales or meetings to spread the word about the refugee crisis. There are some that may know there is a problem, but don’t know much more than that. By putting on events and spreading the word, education about this crisis will increase awareness.
  3. Call the House Representatives and the Senate: Calling local state representatives is a quick and easy way to let one’s voice be heard. Placing a call to a member of the House or Senate will let them know that this is an issue that you care about and want to address.
  4. Support business and organizations run by refugees: Moving to a new country and facing the economic challenges of that country can be one of the hardest things for refugees. Supporting their family can be difficult for refugees in a new country. Make an effort to buy from refugees to help them get started in a new place.
  5. Donate: Donating can be one of the easiest ways to help refugees in need. Donations can be for organizations that go out into the field and provide physical goods or they can be for organizations, like The Borgen Project, that push elected officials to support and pass laws to help those in need.

While the refugee crisis continues to grow, it is important to know that anyone can take part in getting laws passed to protect refugees or can offer kindness to those who are adjusting to drastic life changes.

– Victoria Fowler
Photo: Flickr

Farmers in Developing Countries
While the discussion about fair trade with foreign countries can become complicated fairly quickly, and how citizens can support local and global farmers just as much so, there are a few steps people can take that can make a difference. Here
 are three options that help support farmers in developing countries.

Buying Fair Trade Products

Fairtrade International is a nonprofit organization that certifies different product supply chains that focus on fair trade with international farmers. While the organization is not a grocery store in itself, it lists brands and products that have the Fair Trade certificate.

The organization has specific standards that it looks for in everyone it works with, from traders to small producers to contractors. Some universal standards include acceptable health and safety conditions, workers being able to join a union to discuss working conditions and that the wage is equal to or higher than minimum wage. 

This is a great starting point for someone who wants to become more conscious of which corporations and brands they should support. The list also provides direct links to the brands’ various websites where customers can order online. Supporting these brands and looking into the impact different corporations have is an easy way to help support farmers in developing countries.

Investing in Technology Advancements

Technological advancements can help farmers in developing countries finish their work faster and allow them to complete more work in less time. However, many new inventions need financial help to get off the ground.

One group working to support farmers in developing countries is KickStart International. The company specializes in irrigation pumps that are affordable and can filter and spray water efficiently. The company accepts donations in order to support its goal of making and sharing its inventions.

Another invention, known as the Hippo Roller, is able to collect more water and transport it much more easily than the traditional method of carrying one bucket for miles. By rolling a larger but lighter bucket, the Hippo Roller has helped more than half a million people access water faster and easier.

Like KickStart International, Hippo Roller accepts donations to help promote its invention. Financially supporting inventions that help farmers working long and grueling hours is one way to help support farmers in developing countries.

Support Farmers in Developing Countries by Volunteering

Multiple organizations exist specifically to help local and global farmers. World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) is an organization that allows volunteers to live on a farm (nearby or internationally) and be a worker for a season.

After originating as Working Weekends on Organic Farms in England in 1971, the organization grew to include 42 national groups across the world. By working closely with host families, WWOOF allows people to travel to another country for a season and lend a helping hand with farm work. This program offers a great opportunity to see firsthand where the majority of food comes from and how much work goes into producing it.

While some examples may not be available to everyone because of price or convenience, it is good to be aware of where the money being spent on food is going. Looking further into the treatment of farmers from different companies can be a simple step that goes a long way. Choosing one brand over another, lending a hand in technology advancements to ease the workload and physically going to a country to help out are all great ways to support farmers in developing countries.

– Marissa Wandzel
Photo: Flickr