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Hurricanes amplify poverty in the Bahamas
On September 1, 2019, a massive Category 5 hurricane hit the Bahamas, bringing mass destruction and devastation to the people living there. The storm, named Dorian, took the lives of 70 people and left thousands homeless. A storm of this magnitude impacts all people in its path, yet those hit hardest are the ones living in poverty. During the hurricane season between June and November, hurricanes amplify poverty in the Bahamas by increasing the unemployment rate and exacerbating socioeconomic inequalities. Hurricanes also leave many without access to food, water and shelter.

Unemployment Rates Rise

The Bahamas relies heavily on tourism from resorts, casinos and cruise lines to support its economy. Bahamians living in poverty-stricken conditions depend upon employment from these resorts to support their families. A large storm like Dorian often reduces these resorts and casinos to rubble, leaving thousands unemployed. It is in this way that hurricanes amplify poverty in the Bahamas.

Before the destruction that Hurricane Dorian caused, the unemployment rate stood at 10.9%; however, after the storm, the unemployment rate rose to a staggering 50%. With a fractured economy, an abundance of destroyed homes and limited food and water, survivors of the storm had to leave their homes and families had to seek employment elsewhere.

The Helplessness of Poverty-Stricken Neighborhoods

Of those missing and pronounced dead following Dorian, many were Bahamians living in poverty-stricken neighborhoods. The Mudd, a neighborhood well-known for its high levels of poverty, is just one of many that major hurricanes have leveled. Thousands of Haitian immigrants sought refuge in unstable wooden homes, which were no match for hurricane-force winds. The winds reached 185 mph winds, blowing neighborhoods like it to pieces.

In an interview conducted with Dorval Darlier, the chargé d’affaires of the Haitian Embassy in the Bahamas, Darlier described the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian in The Mudd. He stated that “It looked like a bomb just exploded. It is completely destroyed. Not even a piece of wood stands up in The Mudd. If someone was not evacuated, they have to be dead.” Approximately 3,500 Haitian immigrants live in The Mudd and other poverty-stricken neighborhoods.

The devastation that hurricanes leave increases public health risks, particularly for the poor. Bahamians living in poverty tend to take refuge in the most vulnerable areas. When a storm threatens the island, they are the least able to afford to evacuate. Additionally, they often have no choice but to stay in life-threatening conditions. Bahamian officials must visit these neighborhoods and urge residents to evacuate; however, many refuse to leave because they either have no place to go or are living in the Bahamas illegally.

Hurricanes Expose Inequality

In the past, hurricanes like Dorian have exposed the severity of inequality in the Bahamas. People living in poverty-stricken conditions, primarily Haitian immigrants, end up without homes. Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis vowed not to rebuild immigrant neighborhoods like The Mudd: he mandated that those without homes after a storm are to experience deportation.

Shella Monestime, a Haitian evacuee and resident of one of these neighborhoods, spoke out following the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian and the Prime Minister’s response. She stated, “We just lost everything. We have no clothes, no home, no money. We have to start all over again. People died, and all they are talking about is people getting deported.”

Relief workers in the country have emphasized the drastic nature of this social inequality. A lack of legal papers and uncertain statuses prevent immigrants from receiving assistance after a hurricane. Fear of arrest and deportation has forced the Haitian community into hiding. The Bahamian government has instructed relief workers not to provide assistance to Haitians without proper documentation.As a result, they often end up homeless and helpless after massive storms ravage the area.

Hurricane Aid Provides Hope

The American Red Cross is just one organization that helps rebuild and aid people who experienced an impact from hurricanes. In response to Hurricane Dorian, the American Red Cross provided food, shelter, clean water and emergency supplies to thousands of families that the storm displaced. As of June 30, 2020, the Red Cross had distributed more than $11 million in cash to more than 3,000 Bahamian families. This funding has helped families recover financially and overcome many challenges that Dorian brought on.

In partnerships with Mercy Corps, World Central Kitchen and CORE, the American Red Cross is able to continue providing thousands of gallons of clean drinking water, cash grants to business owners, fresh meals, rent payment assistance and physical aid in rebuilding homes. More than 50 disaster respondents have reached the Bahamas. Each of them has specializations in varying categories including IT/Telecommunications, relief distributions, cash-as-aid, information management, communications, shelter and finance.

The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season has already been extremely active with 11 storms as of August 6, 2020. Additionally, predictions have determined that there could be 10 more storms by the end of the year. Although hurricanes amplify poverty in the Bahamas, aid from organizations like the American Red Cross provides hope to those affected. Despite past destruction, the island continually recovers and proves its resilience as a country.

– Jacey Reece
Photo: Pixabay

Look to Join These College Organizations Fighting Global PovertyThe start of college is indeed a daunting one. With hundreds of student organizations to choose from, freshman and transfer students often feel lost and confused during the orientation process. However, student organizations are a good way not only to make a positive social impact, but also to meet people with similar interests. College organizations fighting global poverty are popular among students, and the opportunities they offer can enrich the college experience.

Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity is a well-known nonprofit which focuses on the idea that everyone deserves proper shelter. Campus chapters are student-led college organizations that primarily engage with local poverty-stricken areas. The four functions of direct service, fundraising, advocating and educating guide nearly 500 campus chapters. Each chapter must partner with a local Habitat organization and be charted by Habitat for Humanity International to be officially recognized. The chapters also offer a Collegiate Challenge. In this volunteer program, a group of five or more selects a location and builds a home over the course of a week.

UNICEF

The United Nations Children’s Fund works in over 190 countries to continuously improve the lives of children in impoverished areas. Specifically, UNICEF Clubs is a grassroots movement that believes the U.S. must play a vital role in children’s rights advocacy. These clubs aim to train students to think and act as global citizens, crafting the skills necessary to support the most vulnerable groups.

American Red Cross

The American Red Cross has a number of opportunities for students. One example is the Red Cross Clubs, which hold regular service projects and leadership training to benefit members and their communities. Internationally, Red Cross and Red Crescent teams respond to natural disasters such as earthquakes, droughts and health epidemics. On top of this, they also preemptively prepare communities for future disasters and perform health-related services in remote areas. Other opportunities include 10-week internship programs for undergraduate and graduate students.

ONE Campus

ONE Campus is an action-focused college organization designed specifically for college students. It mobilizes students around the nation to fight extreme global poverty. Additionally, it strives to combine the crucial elements of advocacy campaigns with the energy and activism unique to the college experience. Unlike other college organizations, it exclusively targets advocacy and campaigning strategies to help polish skills for those interested in government relations and funding. Working closely with African activists, ONE Campus brings a community of young activists together to fight corruption and prioritize global poverty relief funding.

Human Rights Brigades

For those interested in law, the Human Rights Brigades is an international legal empowerment team with campus chapters. It helps families in rural areas that may not have access to the resources available in more populated areas. Specifically, it provides financial resources and legal education for remote and vulnerable communities in Panama and Honduras.

Internship Opportunities

Students often find that doing meaningful work at a nonprofit educates them about advocacy and sharpens their awareness. The Borgen Project offers part-time, three-month internships year-round for students in a number of categories, from Political Affairs to Journalism Internships. More information can be found here.

 

Joining any of these college organizations fighting global poverty can bring students closer together and implement positive global change at the same time.

Elizabeth Qiao
Photo: Unsplash

Cost of Measles
A virus spreads measles; the disease is highly contagious and can cause further serious health problems, including death. Globally, 111,000 deaths occurred from measles in 2017 and most of these deaths were of children under the age of 5. While there is a cost-effective and safe vaccination available, there are gaps in vaccination coverage, especially in developing countries. This allows outbreaks of measles to continue to ravage communities and causes the death toll to rise.

Measles in the Developing World

The global cost of measles is high, but it is highest in the developing world. It is estimated that in the United Kingdom, the medical cost of a single measles case is $307, while the vaccine costs are $1.93. Estimates also determine that currently in the developed world, the cost of a measles outbreak can range between $4,091 and $10,228 per day, depending on the size of the outbreak. Each of these outbreaks can last an average of 17.5 days as well. Economies spending little on health care funding might find the cost of quarantining and ending a measles outbreak daunting and that it would cost more resources and funding than is available.

In 2014, the Federated States of Micronesia saw its first measles outbreak in 20 years. Starting with two confirmed cases of measles, the outbreak grew to over 50,000 people, causing 110 deaths. The cost of this measles outbreak matched the cost of measles outbreaks in the industrialized world; the total costs to treat and contain these 50,000 cases were nearly $4 million costing roughly $10,000 per case. Medical costs accounted for approximately a quarter of the total cost of measles in this example. The other costs came from the loss of productivity for those measles infected as well as their caregivers, and the majority of the cost of this measles epidemic was to contain the outbreak. In total, the country spent around $3.5 million on containment. Containment costs are high for countries struggling to provide health care for their citizens, and the loss of productivity for many families in the developing world can mean the difference between feeding their family and starvation.

Measles’ Recent Appearances

The first quarter of 2019 saw a huge upswing in reported measles cases worldwide versus the same time period a year prior. From January through March of 2019, there were over 112,000 cases, and the vast majority of these cases were from developing countries. For comparison, the same three-month time period in 2018 had only 28,000 reported cases of measles. If the cost of measles containment and medical treatment averaged $10,000 per case, as evidenced by the Federated States of Micronesia, then subject countries have spent at least $1.1 billion in a three-month time span to care for patients worldwide. The effects of the loss of productivity on impoverished families, including starvation, added a deficit of several million more dollars to the cost of measles in 2019.

Combatting Measles

To combat the rise of measles, five leading global health NGOs have formed a partnership to control measles deaths, giving support to immunization drives, and working to lower child mortality rates overall. The partnership includes the American Red Cross, United Nations Foundation (U.N. Foundation), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

When asked about the origins of the partnership, Timothy E. Wirth, President of the United Nations Foundation, said, “It is increasingly clear that every citizen, every sector and every nation has an interest in working together to promote progress in health, human rights, the economy and the environment. Those who think progress in these areas is elusive need look no further than this very tangible, impressive collaboration.” If ever there was a chance to lower child mortality rates, these five NGOs working in connection with one another would be the closest the world has seen.

Vaccination is the Key

Vaccination rates have drastically improved over the last few decades. Measles outbreaks have dropped 80 percent since the year 2000 thanks to increased vaccinations. One can partly attribute the recent increase in measles cases to a decrease in vaccinations worldwide. The cost of measles outbreaks is far too high to continue battling a disease that people can avoid with a vaccine costing less than $2. The cost of lost productivity can continue the cycle of poverty for developing nations for years to come. Measles vaccinations must increase and become available in all reaches of the world to counter the issues that measles outbreaks pose.

Kathryn Moffet
Photo: Flickr

Recovering from Natural Disaster
Water, wind, fire and earth are four key elements which, when combined properly, create a perfectly harmonious world. But if one decides to go slightly awry, disaster can strike.

When disaster strikes, media coverage of the event and its aftermath is extensive and intense. After all of the tragic glamour of the disaster subsides, however, the public rarely hears any more about the victims, who are forced to rebuild their lives for years.

Water strikes in the form of a tsunami, one of which hit Japan rather brutally in 2011 and whose mark can still be seen four years later. While Japan is rather used to getting hit with natural disasters, as it has been home to some of the worst disasters in the 21st century, according to the Japan Times, it still has around 230,000 people living in temporary housing four years after the tsunami. Recovery has been slow partially because of the involvement of another element, earth: Soon after the tsunami hit, an earthquake followed. This came as a result of Japan existing within the “Ring of Fire,” which is the area of the world most susceptible to earthquakes due to tectonic plate positioning. The combined damages from the earthquake and the tsunami totaled to around $300 billion.

This earthquake caused a crack in a nuclear reactor close to Japanese water supplies, and this small, fiery crack led to a whole host of issues. Contaminated water was only another issue on a long list of things that needed to be fixed after this collection of tragic events. To repair the damage, Japan enacted a seven step plan, which has been slowly making progress and is almost complete. But none of this would have been possible without the aid of foreign nations and the support systems they have in place.

In the United States, there are organizations such as the Red Cross and FEMA, which allocate money and volunteers to help in the event of an emergency. Internationally, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies act to help nations develop and carry out their disaster relief plans. While the IRFC has developed several guidelines and regulations, few states have followed these regulations without contradicting one another. Recently, the organization has strived to perfect its work by releasing guidelines that strictly adhere to those adopted by state parties at the Geneva Convention, and have also created model acts and disaster law databases to permit governments to ensure that they are getting the best help possible.

Disaster can strike without warning and the side effects can lasts for years afterward. It is imperative for the global community to understand the old economic theory of the butterfly effect — when one problem occurs, even if it is halfway across the world, it will have repercussions for everyone. By helping each other grow and recover we preserve industry, trade and the lives of individuals who do not have a place to call home. Disaster can ruin lives, but that does not mean that we should let it.

Sumita Tellakat

Sources: IFRC, Live Science
Photo: The New York Times

volunteer-digital-programs
Giving back can be a hassle, but with the digital revolution there are more and more opportunities to volunteer from your home. The organizations that have been thriving in this day and age are those that take advantage of technology. These are a few organizations that have great digital volunteer programs:

1. American Red Cross

The Red Cross trains individuals in using social media including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to communicate to victims during times of natural disaster. Volunteers help victims find information, direct them to where they can get help, and provide comfort.

2. The United Nations

The UN offers volunteer opportunities in all fields ranging from environment and health to region specific positions. These positions allows people to make a difference anywhere in the world from their computer. The time commitments range from 1-5 hours to 11-20 hours a week.

3. Code Corps

Code Corps links public and private organizations to work together during times of natural disaster. It originated in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and helped many in the New York area rebuild the city government through technology and digital tools. Currently this is only available to organizations in the NYC area, but other non-profits interested in linking their organization you can apply online.

4. All For Good

The All For Good database shows virtual volunteer opportunities in different areas. It offers a range of positions in non-profits and grassroots organizations.

5. Volunteer Match

Volunteer Match is another database that allows interested members to add more filters based on field of interest as well as location. The sophisticated level of filtering allows people to find the best match for their volunteering work.

And finally let’s not forget about The Borgen Project, which has volunteers who work virtually from all over the country. The Borgen Project’s goal is to have volunteers in all 435 congressional districts, and it is on its way to reaching that goal. If you are interested in becoming a virtual volunteer for The Borgen Project check out the “Act Now” page of the website.

– Catherine Ulrich

Source: Huffington Post
Source: American Red Cross

Bieber Concert Tickets Benefit the Red Cross
For Justin Bieber, Jonas Brothers and One Direction fans, there is an ultimate concert package available right now until April 26, 2013, to meet and see all of them in concert – and the best part is the auction price benefits the American Red Cross.

CharityBuzz.com is hosting the auction, where four people will win:

  • Four Tickets to a Justin Bieber concert in June at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA
  • Meet & Greet with Justin Bieber
  • Four Tickets to a Jonas Brothers August 16, 2013, Los Angeles, CA Gibson Amphitheatre
  • Meet & Greet with the Jonas Brothers during a private lunch with the band
  • Four Tickets to a One Direction concert in August at the Staples Center in LA, CA

The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering due to emergencies and natural disasters, by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors. It is not a government agency, it is independent and neutral, and operates for the good of all. The Red Cross originated in 1863 to care for and protect wounded soldiers and introduced a common red cross symbol to protect medical personnel on the battlefield. The global Red Cross, and more recently Red Crescent, mission and scope have evolved into the world’s largest humanitarian network – the only NGO with specific responsibilities outlined in the Geneva Conventions. Today, the American Red Cross and its partners provide humanitarian assistance to the world’s most vulnerable populations.

Some celebrities know they have an obligation to give back to the people and communities that built them, and they are in a unique position to have a massive impact. The bid now stands at $10,500.

– Mary Purcell

Source: CharityBuzz, Red Cross