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10 Shocking Facts About Fidel Castro

As the political leader of Cuba from 1959 to 2008,  Fidel Castro, nicknamed El Comandante, was the “face of left-wing totalitarianism”. Though Castro’s educational reforms significantly improved the system of education in Cuba, they often came at the hand of communist policies that left its citizens impoverished as well. While most of Castro’s reforms proved harmful, a few paved the way for advances in Cuban health and education. Here are eight shocking facts about Fidel Castro.

8 Shocking Facts about Fidel Castro

  1. Castro eradicated Cuban illiteracy. Through the implementation of the Cuba Literacy Campaign of 1961, Cuba met the Millennium Development Goals set forth by the United Nations and the country’s literacy rate rose from 60 to 100 percent. In one day, the program opened 10,000 classrooms, guaranteeing education for all Cuban citizens. Overall, more than 700,000 Cubans became literate in just one year. Castro’s relentless fight for universal education brought the issue to the forefront of Cuban challenges and successfully improved literacy among its people.
  2. Castro established Cuba’s universal health care system. By nationalizing Cuban health care, Castro’s policies not only expanded public health care but improved it. With the establishment of the Rural Medical Service and the Declaration of Alma-Ata, Castro brought medical services to rural locations, opened family clinics and made free medical care accessible for all. Cuba’s health care successes also include completely blocking the transfer of HIV and syphilis from mother to child and providing the first vaccine for meningitis B, which is still the only available vaccine for the disease today. Castro not only provided health care for the Cuban people by improving prevention, equal coverage and access but his policies also advanced the quality of care as well.
  3. Castro punished those who thought differently than himself. By jailing political opponents and closing down newspapers with alternative political perspectives, those who thought differently than Castro were not safe during his reign. The native-born Cuban leader limited his citizens’ free speech and punished those who valued their voice more than their safety. Castro did not limit his punishments to speech; he also legalized physically abusive tactics on politically divergent individuals. Those who questioned or criticized the way Castro ran his government were often imprisoned, denied access to medical care, suffered beatings and entered solitary confinement. In 2003, Castro executed his methods on a larger scale when 75 people, human rights activists, journalists and trade unionists, received his abusive tactics following their outspoken criticism of the Cuban government.
  4. Castro limited economic freedom. Life under Castro’s rule was economically suffocating. With the creation of The First Agrarian Reform in 1959, Castro intended to improve the economy by redistributing land among the classes. The law, however, was more prohibitive than inclusive. It placed limits on the amount of land individuals could own, abolished private business and nationalized foreign land ownership. With The Second Agrarian Reform of 1963, these limits only became more restrictive. The new law gave Cuba ownership over two-thirds of national farmland, and by 1998, the country owned 82 percent of it. With such limited freedom over their own economic choices, hundreds of thousands of middle-class Cubans fled their homes for a better life in the U.S.
  5. Castro plunged Cuba into an economic downfall. During his rule, Castro made sugar Cuba’s main source of income. The growing of Cuban sugarcane relied on imports of fertilizers, pesticides and technology from the Soviet Union. So when the USSR fell in 1989, Cuba was no longer able to produce its main source of income, and its economy consequently collapsed. As a result, the country’s GDP fell by 35 percent, which propelled Cuba into a time of economic struggle known as the Special Period. Marked by food and housing shortages, increased unemployment and reduced public services, Castro’s economic decisions resulted in the impoverishment of his own people.
  6. Castro did not let human rights organizations enter Cuba. Castro treated many people inhumanely and he refused human rights organizations entry into the country. Without access to the country, organizations, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, were unable to work toward improving the harsh realities of the Cuban people and inhumane practices went on without consequence.
  7. Castro refused to hold elections while in office. Castro remained in power for almost five decades and this was partly due to his refusal to leave power. Nobody was legally able to run against Castro unless they shared his political perspective because he placed a ban on multiparty elections after self-proclaiming himself a socialist. This meant that he was able to enforce his inhumane policies for decades and the economic strain was long-lasting.
  8. The Cuban government still uses Castro’s abusive methods. Abusive tactics introduced during Castro’s reign, such as arbitrary arrest and detention, beating, acts of repudiation and government surveillance, are still used in Cuba today according to the Human Rights Watch. While Raul Castro, Castro’s brother and Cuba’s current leader, has hinted towards reconsidering the country’s abusive methods, he has taken no real action, and the country’s citizens continue to suffer abuse. For example, in 2016, the arrests of 9,940 Cuban citizens led to harassments, beatings and the subjection to acts of repudiation.

These eight shocking facts about Fidel Castro cannot encapsulate 49 years of supremacy, though they can provide a glimpse into Cuban life under his rule. While Castro passed away in 2016, his death cannot erase the influence his policies had on Cuba. However, organizations, such as CARE and the Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba (FHRC) are implementing programs to increase living conditions in Cuba.

Organizations Working to Rebuild Castro’s Cuba

CARE, an organization that began working in Cuba during the Special Period, is doing great work to reinstate the food security Cuba lost during the fall of the Soviet Union. With projects such as the Strengthening Dairy Value Chain Project (SDVC) and the Co-Innovation Project, CARE is working with Cuban farmers to improve agricultural practices. CARE made Cuban food security a national priority by providing rural farmers with access to new farming technologies, helping them in diversifying their food supply and figuring out ways to make food products more accessible at the local level. While Castro’s rule limited non-governmental farmland ownership to 18 percent, Cuba now allows its citizens 66.29 percent of farmland ownership, meaning that Cuba now has the ability and freedom to achieve its food security goals.

FHRC uses non-violence to protect the rights of Cuban citizens. Through the Cuban Repressors Program, the FHRC has created a safe place for Cuban citizens to report violent Cuban government officials. The program provides Cuban activists with cameras and smartphones that allow them to record inhumane activity. It also distributes photos and pamphlets with images of repressive perpetrators to communities and posts identified repressors on the internet. Since the launch of the program, these methods have identified 93 repressors, and with the number of reported repressors decreasing each month, the FHRC is succeeding in attaining justice for the Cuban people.

U.S. Relations with Cuba

Years after Raul Castro took over presidential responsibilities from his brother, President Obama announced that the U.S. and Cuba would restore its diplomatic ties in an effort to normalize relations between the two countries. Obama began to ease U.S. trade and travel restrictions with Cuba that were upheld for decades due to Castro’s abusive policies. However, the Trump Administration is making efforts to roll back Obama’s policies and enforce new economic sanctions on Cuba. With Cuba’s newly elected president, Miguel Díaz-Canel, only time will tell how the U.S.- Cuba relationship will develop.

– Candace Fernandez
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Morocco
Morocco is a country in North Africa that borders the Atlantic Ocean in the west and the Mediterranean in the north. Its location makes it a strong competitor in international trade and business. Forbes has classified Morocco as an emerging country with financial, educational and political potential. In 2015, the Government of Morocco and the World Health Organization (WHO) teamed up to improve the public health situation in the country, focusing on five regional priorities: health security and control of communicable diseases, mental health and violence, nutrition, strengthening health systems and responsiveness to health crises. Here are the 10 facts about life expectancy in Morocco.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Morocco

  1. Life expectancy at birth in Morocco has increased by over 35 years since 1950. A recent report found that Moroccans should reach a 77-year life expectancy compared with the 42 years of average life expectancy in 1950. The Ministry of Family Solidarity, Equality and Social Development carried out this study in partnership with the National Observatory for Human Development.
  2. The same study found that the life expectancy of Moroccan women was age 60, which was 21 years longer instead of just 17 years longer as recorded in 1980. There was a similar increase with Moroccan men at age 60, who now should live 19 years longer instead of 17 years longer in 1980.
  3. The 2014 Moroccan census showed that nearly 3.2 million Moroccans are over 60 years old, while in 1960, less than one million Moroccans lived to be 60 years old. The aforementioned study predicts that by the year 2030, the number of people who live to be 60 and above will double to almost six million Moroccans, which is 20 percent of the population.
  4. Morocco is currently going through a demographic transition. The population is increasing but at a declining rate, as the overall life expectancy from birth continues to increase but women are having fewer children. Morocco is following development trends; the more it develops, the more the rate of its population goes down. When Morocco reaches the status of a developed country, its population will decline like countries across Europe and the United States of America.
  5. Overall infant, child and maternal mortality rates have decreased as there is more emphasis on expanding access to vaccinations, adequate nutrition, hygiene and better primary health care. Various international organizations and nonprofits, such as the WHO and CARE have managed to improve the overall health care situation in Morocco. All of these contribute to the decrease in mortality rates and the increase in life expectancy.
  6. Morocco has a shrinking population of children which reflects the decline in the total fertility rate from five in the mid-1980s to 2.2 in 2010. Total fertility rate (TFR) relates to the total number of children born or likely to be born to a woman in her lifetime, assuming she is subject to the age-specific fertility rate of her society’s population.
  7. Aging is the main trend in demographic shifts. The joint report found that by 2050, Morocco will have approximately 10 million senior citizens. This again points towards increased life expectancy and Morocco’s increasing overall development.
  8. The joint report also indicated that poverty in urban areas decreased from 4.9 percent to 0.7 percent and in the countryside from 14 percent to 4.5 percent in the span of almost a decade. This decrease in poverty, as well as the tendency of elderly to live in urban areas with increased access to health care, are all contributing factors to the increased life expectancy of elderly, as well as the general population.
  9. The study found that proper medical care and social care for the elderly is lacking, despite the increasing senior population in Morocco. Currently, there is not enough investment in welfare programs or senior living facilities and arrangements. This makes it more difficult for seniors to participate in Moroccan society by posing challenges to their own mobilization and physical health.
  10. The Ministry of Family, Solidarity, Equality and Social Development stress that research on life expectancy help the government to assess and develop adequate social welfare and health care programs. The increase in elderly people in the population implies the government should be investing in senior accommodations such as senior living homes.

These 10 facts about life expectancy in Morocco should help the country adequately serve its people through health care and social programs. With this knowledge, the country can prepare to provide care and housing for an older population.

– Laura Phillips-Alvarez
Photo: Flickr

five NGOs are petitioning the government to end the war in Yemen
The war in Yemen between Houthi rebels and the Saudi led coalition has created the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. Despite the dire situation, there is reason to hope. On November 26, five NGOs petitioned the U.S. Government to call an end to the war. Two days later, the U.S. Government announced it would add an additional $24 million to USAID’s Office of Food for Peace. On December 13, the Senate voted to end the United States support of the Saudi coalition. These are the five NGOs that are petitioning to end the war in Yemen.

Since 2015, there have been more than 16,000 civilians casualties, 22.2 million people, including 11 million children, are in need of aid and eight million are at risk of famine. The war has led to a host of other problems as well, including a cholera outbreak and a lack of access to clean water. Many organizations are trying to stop the conflict in Yemen. These are 5 nonprofit organizations working hard to protect the people of Yemen.

These are the 5 NGOs that are petitioning to end the war in Yemen

  1. International Rescue Committee (IRC): The International Rescue Committee, headed by David Miliband, a former U.K. Secretary of Foreign Affairs, is focused on humanitarian relief operations in war-affected areas. Right now it operates in more than 40 countries, and its refugee resettlement program operates in 28 U.S. cities. The IRC has been providing aid to Yemen since 2012, working to protect women and children as well as provide access to healthcare and education.
  2. Oxfam: Oxfam is a global organization working in more than 90 countries to end poverty. Led by Abby Maxman, the former Deputy Secretary General of CARE International, Oxfam believes in identifying and changing the root causes of poverty rather than just sending material aid. Through fighting and eliminating injustice, Oxfam feels that poverty can finally be eliminated. The organization has been working in Yemen since 2015 to prevent diseases by providing sanitation, hygiene assistance and clean water to those affected by the war.
  3. CARE: CARE is active in 93 countries around the globe working to combat social injustice and poverty. The organization is headed by Michelle Nunn, who previously ran the organization Points of Light and had been a candidate for the U.S. Senate. CARE current goal is to reach 200 million of the world’s most vulnerable people by 2020. CARE has been working in Yemen since 1992 and is currently providing food, water and sanitation to one million Yemenis people each month.
  4. Save the Children: Save the Children is an organization that works in the U.S. and around the world to provide for underprivileged children. It is headed by Carolyn Miles, who has been with the organization since 1998. Save the Children is active in 120 countries worldwide promoting nutrition, health and education programs. Save the Children is doing just that in Yemen by treating almost 100,000 Yemenis children for malnutrition through mobile health clinics.
  5. Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC): The Norwegian Refugee Council started its relief efforts after World War II and continues its mission to this day. The organization is active in 32 countries across the world to provide clean water, education, camp management, legal aid, food assistance and shelter to refugees. The Norwegian Refugee Council is headed by Jan Egeland, who has been with the organization since 2013 and was appointed in 2015 by the U.N. as special envoy to Syria. In 2017, the NRC has provided food for more than 300,000 Yemenis and shelter to more than 50,000.

These 5 NGOs that are petitioning to end the war in Yemen are all fighting for a better world for the world’s poor. Through their work, they were able to spur the government into action. Since the petition, millions of dollars have been added to the aid package for Yemen, and the U.S. has voted to end its military involvement in the conflict.

Peter Zimmerman
Photo: Flickr

Human Rights in Nicaragua

In recent weeks, the previously peaceful country of Nicaragua has been rocked as social protests have been combated with violent repression. At the end of April, citizens of Nicaragua took to the streets after President Daniel Ortega proposed cutting pensions and social security. Since then, Ortega has abandoned these plans, but Nicaraguans are now protesting and calling for his resignation. The government has responded violently to these anti-government protests, and an estimated 200 people have been killed; although, many have reported that this is a low estimate.

Despite this blatant disregard for human rights, the government’s violent response to these protests has received limited news coverage. It is for this reason that the work of human rights activists and defenders highlighted below is more important than ever. The first two organizations defend human rights as researchers and activists, and the last two organizations are working to provide basic human rights such as shelter, food and clothing. Each organization is protecting human rights in Nicaragua in different but equally important ways.

Amnesty International

This well-known organization is similar to The Borgen Project due to its focus on advocacy, campaigning and action. Amnesty International fights human rights abuse around the globe and campaigns for a world where everyone has human rights. One of the ways they help countries like Nicaragua is through researching and reporting on human rights abuses.

Throughout the current conflicts in Nicaragua, Amnesty International has both reported on the issues and called on countries and governments around the world to do more. At the end of May, the organization released a report on Nicaragua that explains the repressive strategies being used on protesters, which was used as a reference by larger news sources reporting on the country. Throughout the month of June, the organization continued to release news stories on the violence in the country and called for international leaders and organizations to not turn their backs on the Nicaraguan people. The spotlight and voice they are providing for victims of violence have been one of the ways they have fought to protect human rights in Nicaragua.

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR)

Started in 1959, the IACHR is an independent body in service of The Organization of American States whose goal is to improve human rights in the American hemisphere through promotion and protection. It also operates with The Inter-American Court of Human Rights, or “The Court,” under a charter that calls for the full respect of human rights.

This organization plans to set up a Rapid and Integrated Response Coordination Unit (SACROI in Spanish) in order to focus attention on human rights in Nicaragua. By the end of May, the Commission had sent groups to four locations in Nicaragua. The purpose of these trips was to observe the human rights situation after the violence that happened in April, to document these events and to create recommendations for the current state of the country. The groups visited State facilities, hospitals, detention centers and healthcare facilities and produced a lengthy report of their findings.

The findings show that police violence, unlawful detentions and limiting access to medical care have been used to keep people from demonstrating. According to this report, as of June 19, 212 people had been murdered and 1,337 people injured. The report argues that the government’s repressive reaction to demonstrations has created a serious human rights crisis. Their findings were presented to the OAS and have shown how important it is to protect the Nicaraguan people.

Nicaragua Nonprofit Network (NNN)

The NNN is different than other nonprofits in Nicaragua because it’s mission is to bring development together by providing a common platform for all nonprofits in the country. Volunteers and organizations are able to share resources, knowledge, accomplishments and experiences with others to improve efficiency and development. Basically, it is a way for the people working for basic human rights in Nicaragua to work together to share what has worked and what hasn’t in order to have a bigger impact on the country.

Their technologies and strategies are extensive making the organization more effective. They include comprehensive profiles of nonprofits, search tools, like maps and databases, allow one to search for nonprofits in certain areas and what they do, forums for members, news and reporting, custom Google Map tools, event calendars and staff/volunteer listings. Currently, the NNN is made up of 152 organizations spread across the country who are using this platform to work together with other nonprofits.

Other than networking nonprofits together, the NNN has had an active Twitter feed throughout the protests in Nicaragua. They share updates and news stories about these human rights abuses and have acted as social media activists.

CARE

CARE is a nonprofit that protects the basic human rights of people all around the world in areas such as gender equality, social justice and fighting poverty.

In 1990, CARE started clean water, preventative health, and sanitation programs and is working to establish sustainable agriculture in rural areas. Through these programs, CARE has touched over 300,000 lives in Central America and provided food security to many families. Other areas of focus in Nicaragua include ending child poverty, improving girls’ education, youth empowerment and maternal health.

Each of these organizations is protecting human rights in Nicaragua in equally important yet different ways. As the Nicaraguan government continues to abuse its people, these organizations are working for good and will continue supporting human rights.

– Alexandra Eppenauer
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Poverty in Manila
With a population of 1.78 million, Manila is the capital of and second largest city in the Philippines. It has 42,857 people per square kilometer, making it is the world’s most densely populated city. Manila struggles with crime, overpopulation and pollution. Here are 10 facts about poverty in Manila.

Facts About Poverty in Manila

  1. There are 3.1 million homeless people living in Manila. The city has the highest homeless population of any in the world. In the Philippines, more than 1.2 million children are homeless and over half of these are found in Manila.
  2. One-tenth of slum dwellers live in the capital of Manila. The Tondo District, a neighborhood in Manila, is one of the most densely populated places with 80,000 people per square kilometer. According to the United Nations, many of them lack adequate water, housing, sanitation, education, health and employment.
  3. The annual average of air pollution in Manila is 70 percent more than the recommended safe level. Dangerously high levels of air pollution are more threatening to urban areas such as Manila and come with multiple health risks.
  4. Nearly 10 percent of the estimated 39 million Filipinos ages six to 24 is an Out of School Child and Youth (OSCY) in Manila. This is equivalent to one in ten Filipinos, with OSCY referring to those who are not attending formal school, are not currently out of school, have not gained employment and have not finished college or post-secondary courses.
  5. There are an estimated 6,000 slum-dwellers from 800 families living in cemetery slums in Manila North. These communities have existed since the 1950s. Manila North is the city’s oldest and largest cemetery, encompassing an expansive 133 acres.
  6. Within these cemeteries, frequent, violent anti-drug raids by the Philippine National Police (PNP) have killed more than 12,000 people since June 2016. These killings are linked to President Rodrigo Duterte’s “war on drugs” campaign. The PNP claim that crime and drug use is prevalent in these cemeteries, which is liked to the high levels of unemployment of those living in the cemeteries.
  7. In Manila, 3.4 million children are stunted with over 300,000 underweight, all of whom are under the age of five. Poor nutrition has remained a constant problem and has made the Philippines has the ninth highest prevalence of stunted kids of all countries in the world. Studies show that this number is expected to grow if the government does not boost support for social services.
  8. “Happyland,” a slum area of Tondo, has more than 12,000 people living in shelters built around a garbage dump. Residents of “Happyland” look through garbage daily for anything of value. One common finding is chicken scraps which are collected in bins and then recycled through boiling. This is referred to as “pagpag,” which is then sold to hungry families in slums for a few pesos.
  9. Slums are scattered over 526 communities in all cities and municipalities of Metro Manila. These communities house 2.5 million people in either vacant private or public lands, usually along rivers, near garbage dumps, along railroad tracks, under bridges and beside industrial establishments.
  10. On average, three-quarters of the households in Manila’s slums are long-term, or more than five years, residents of the area. The average settlement is 19.2 years, with the majority of households migrating to the areas from other cities within the metro or the city.

These facts about poverty in Manila illustrate some of the extremes that people in the city live under, but this does not mean that there is no opportunity for change. Organizations such as CARE are working in the Philippines to help the urban poor in Manila and other cities, and in 2017, they aided more than 30,000 individuals in improving their quality of life. Continued assistance can ensure that these facts about poverty in Manila affect fewer people in the future.

– Ashley Quigley

Photo: Google

Sudan
The political climate of Sudan is one that has been unpredictable for several years, and resulted in many refugees fleeing the country. Thankfully, aid from Uganda and organizations has been successful in easing the burdens refugees face when they leave their country.

The Civil War in Sudan

Wars in Sudan have occurred since the 1960s, with the most recent civil war in Sudan beginning in 2014 over a political argument: Salva Kiir, the president of Sudan, believed Vice President Reik Machar was attempting to overthrow his presidency and undermine his power, and the disagreement divided the country.

Since 2014, attempts at peace have been interrupted: stolen oil and ethnic cleansing resulting from the civil war in Sudan and the nation’s violent political climate lead to a total of one million refugees leaving their homes by last fall.

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, many of these refugees escaped to Uganda and more than 1,800 refugees leave South Sudan every day. Fortunately, Uganda’s open border policy has made it possible for refugees to find temporary rest where land, food, water and education are accessible.

Refugees

In an interview with UNHCR, Tabu Sunday, a South Sudanese refugee, discussed her experience in leaving her parents to find safety in Uganda.

“Where I was living they were killing people,” she said. “My parents said they didn’t have enough money for travelling. So we had to walk on foot with my aunt. It was a long and hard journey. We had to use the Congo route to reach Uganda. My aunt stayed for a week and decided to return home.”

There are several aid organizations assisting refugees fleeing the civil war in Sudan. For instance, the Cooperative Assistance and Relief Everywhere organization (CARE) provides nutrition assistance to refugees in addition to the efforts of Uganda’s families and governments. According to CARE, approximately two million citizens from South Sudan have fled their country.

UNICEF has been involved in Sudan with the goals to improve health, nutrition, water, sanitation, education and safety. Making education more accessible in South Sudan is an endeavor of which many organizations have seen success — through UNICEF “Education in Emergencies” programs and the establishment of United Nations Protection of Civilians Sites, a 2013 project was able to improve such accessibility.

However, aid organizations have overcome some challenges in assisting South Sudan in the past. In the spring of 2017, the government of South Sudan blocked aid organizations from providing food to the country. Not only was a Save the Children base stolen from, but aid was blocked by the government as a form of brutality.

Despite these challenges, aid organizations persist and maintain a strong focus on improving the present and future lives of refugees.  

The Future   

As aid organizations persist in their efforts to help refugees, several organizations will need to take into account the political climate where aid workers are placed; for instance, being aware of the potential famines that will most likely result from the political climate of the civil war in Sudan. However, knowing this ahead of time will assist organizations in providing better care to refugees in need.

According to the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, the violence in Sudan combined with famine and a history of an unstable political climate has made the issue of assisting the people in South Sudan very complex.

It is estimated that by March 2018, 8 million people will experience food insecurity. The European Union, and its partnerships, have contributed 43 percent of the aid to South Sudan.

Humanitarian Aid Efforts

The efforts of aid organizations make indisputable difference to refugees on the ground. According to UNOCHA, 5.4 million of the 7 million people in need of help received assistance by December 2017.

Below are a few of the organizations making a difference in addition to the European Union and its partnerships.

  1. The International Rescue Committee
  2. Save the Children
  3. USAID
  4. CARE
  5. UNOCHA

These organizations will continue to provide resources for people to learn about the issues in Sudan as well as give aid to the people there, steps that will continue the progress international groups have already set in motion.

– Gabriella Evans

Photo: Flickr


When outside aid organizations enter developing countries with the best intentions to help, it is important that these organizations partner with local businesses and individuals. Community cooperation is essential to effective and long-term global development. The alternative is short-lived relief that lasts only as long as the aid organization’s presence persists in the region.

Community cooperation, however, ensures that no vacuums are left in communities after aid is inevitably retracted. Creating self-sustaining communities is key to long term relief.

There are many organizations that have grasped hold of this idea. The following are a few examples of such:

Global Water Partnership (GWP)

Global Water Partnership is a global action network whose goal is to reach a water-secure world. The organization has over 3,000 partners in 183 countries. It focuses on educating countries and communities about water management. GWP believes that good governance concerning water management can only be accomplished with collaborative efforts.

Save the Children

Save the Children believes that education helps children to reach their full potential. Through its education programs, Save the Children has helped train teachers and parents on effective teaching practices, encouraged education practices outside of the classroom and ensured that students continue learning after crises occur.

World Vision

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization that seeks to “empower people out of poverty.” Partnering with locals is the core of World Vision’s approach to global development. Local partnerships allow “programs to be more effective by benefiting from greater legitimacy, local knowledge, resources, and long-term ownership.”

Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE)

CARE is a humanitarian aid organization that works around the globe to “save lives, defeat poverty and achieves social justice.” The organization’s approach to aid often involves partnering with locals. For instance, one of its facets for gender-based violence (GBV) relief involves equipping local activists with the tools needed to provide case managers for women and children who are survivors of GBV. CARE’s economic development programs also involve local education by teaching women and families sound financial habits and by creating entrepreneurs.

The purpose of many nonprofit and aid organizations is to effectually become unneeded. A nonprofit fighting illiteracy wants everyone to eventually know how to read. Once literacy rates reach 100 percent (or 99 percent, accounting for margin of error), aid can withdraw from regions around the world.

The longevity of the impact of these organizations is dependent on their ability to prepare future generations. If the hypothetical literacy-focused nonprofit withdrew without leaving behind any local teachers then future generations would be left in a disadvantageous state.

A helping hand without explanation and aid without education is hurtful in the long term. Community cooperation is key to effective relief.

Rebeca Ilisoi

Photo: Flickr

Ethos WaterWith more than 1 billion people around the world lacking access to safe drinking water,  Ethos Water founder Peter Thum is using proceeds from his bottled water sales to provide clean water to areas in need.

Ethos Water began in 2001 with the goal of helping children get clean water. Thum, the man behind the mission, founded the company after a business trip to South Africa where he saw the lack of clean water in many communities. Thum became consumed by the idea of creating a bottled water company that gave back to those in need of clean water; he then quit his job to pursue his plan.

Thum’s old classmate, Jonathan Greenblatt joined Thum in late 2002 to help create Ethos. Together they launched their bottled water company in August of 2003 and formed an organization called Ethos Water Fund to invest funds from their business into safe water programs.

With every bottle that gets sold, Ethos donates five cents (ten cents in Canada) to the Ethos Water Fund, in order to give clean drinking water to those who need it. Not only does Ethos donate money for clean drinking water, but it also raises awareness about the lack of clean drinking water in other countries.

In 2005 Ethos partnered with Starbucks in hopes to sell more water. Currently, a little over $12.3 million has been raised to give clean water to individuals who otherwise would not have it, according to Starbucks. That money will help over 500,000 people around the world.

In 2008 Ethos Water Fund and Starbucks Foundation decided to give two NGOs, CARE and Project Concern International, each $1 million over the period of three years from the Ethos Water Fund. These NGOs used that money to help support water, sanitation and hygiene education programs in water-stressed African communities, according to Starbucks. Collectively the expected benefits were estimated to help 54,000 people get access to clean water that previously did not have access.

CARE and Project Concern International were chosen to obtain these grants due to their emphasis on sustainability. Also, due to their agreement to not only provide access to clean water for villages but also to empower local residents to become part of the long-term solution.

CARE introduced sanitation and hygiene practices in Rwanda’s Musanze District while Project Concern International decided to focus their efforts on implementing low-cost, easy-to-maintain technologies in Tanzania’s Babati District.

These NGO’s were only able to do these fantastic acts of service through Ethos Water Fund. Howard Schultz, CEO, president and chairman of Starbucks, said “When our customers choose to buy Ethos water, they’re improving the lives of people who lack vital resources.”

In 2014 grants were made out to six NGOs in Tanzania ($750,000), Indonesia ($750,000), Colombia ($1.1 million), Guatemala ($480,000) and Nicaragua ($300,000). These grants have helped these countries gain clean water access and sanitation and hygiene education programs.

The effect Ethos water has had around the world is incredible, one single man’s idea which ended up helping thousands.

Bella Chaffey

Photo: YouTube

HIV cure research
Thirty-seven million people throughout the world currently suffer from HIV. Researchers stationed in Chapel Hill’s University of North Carolina (UNC) hope to change this fact through the use of a $23 million grant awarded to researchers at the university’s Collaboratory of AIDS Researchers for Eradication (CARE) by the National Institutes of Health for their HIV cure research.

This award came after a rigorous application process, and supports the continuation of their ground-breaking work towards completely eradicating HIV through HIV cure research.

Curing HIV has eluded scientists for years due to the disease’s latent, but viral behavior. The sexually transmitted disease buries itself deep within the body and lies dormant for years, making it challenging to detect or diagnose in its early stages. And although treatments have been able to transform HIV into a benign chronic health condition, the virus still remains in the bloodstream.

CARE hopes to completely eliminate HIV from the body through a revolutionary method known as “kick and kill.” The strategy is a relatively recent development created by a small Norwegian biotechnology firm. The strategy is to not simply transform the AIDS-causing virus, but to completely extract and destroy the infected cells within the bloodstream, thus expelling HIV-laden cells from the body.

This method became quickly adapted by researchers at UNC. The $23 million grant serves as a refund for CARE, which was first funded in 2001 through its Martin Delaney Collaborations for HIV Cure Research program, the first funding effort to zero-in on curing HIV.

Professor of medicine at UNC and Principal Investigator of CARE, Dr. David Margolis commented, “I think we were refunded for several reasons. As we seek to both do discovery science and progress new therapies, our long-standing collaboration with Merck was extremely productive.”

Dr. Margolis is also optimistic in the strong alliances and partnerships CARE formed between other medical and research institutions such as GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), MacroGenics, Duke Human Vaccine Institute and Yerkes National Primate Researche Center stationed in Emory. Dr. Margolis states “these (partnerships) give us new tools to study viral persistence and clearance.”

Prospects for finding a cure to HIV remain bright, but while finding a cure is high on CARE’s radar, HIV prevention, education and treatment are also valuable and necessary to creating a HIV-free world.

Jenna Salisbury

Photo: Flickr

HealthHygiene-related illnesses cause more than 1.8 million deaths worldwide and the Global Soap Project (GSP) is taking a stand to reduce this number by taking advantage of the 2.6 million bars of soap are thrown away in hotels daily.

Founder Derreck Kayongo was inspired to provide hope to refugees around the world with his own experience as a refugee when he fled a civil war in Uganda for the U.S. at age ten.” Ask any refugee anywhere in the world, they’ll tell you that they lose dignity right off the bat,”  Kayongo stated in a passionate talk hosted by Keppler Speakers.

Since its inception in 2009, GSP has been improving the lives of people in 32 countries by distributing clean soap and educating communities on hygiene. The life-saving organization targets victims of disaster, refugees, the homeless and mothers and children living in extreme poverty. The goal? Making an impact on global health.

The Global Soap Project has implemented educational programs providing access to information otherwise unattainable, such as how and when to use soap and its importance to sanitation, hygiene and long-term health. The GSP and its partner, Clean the World, collects unused soap from hundreds of hotels that have united with the organization.

Then, GSP recycles and redistributes them, with help from organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Partners in Health and CARE.

The organization has created a micro-loan program that offers financial and training support to local, small-scale soap makers. To support this initiative, hotels send boxes of unused soap to GSP, where they are recycled, inspected and given to NGO’s for shipment to affiliations in impoverished areas.

NGO’s are not charged for the provided soap. After distribution, NGO partners relay reports of successful dispersion and educational programs. In Kenya, the Global Soap Project has had a sizable impact. The organization distributed soap to more than 300 families in Lindi, located within one of the largest slums in Africa. GSP also allocated soap to 1,320 students in Kenya.

https://youtu.be/htSyaFAGY4U

According to the GSP, a head teacher from a receiving school, commented on the organization’s success and expressed gratefulness. He stated, “Most of my kids know how to use soap after toilet, after eating, after playing, after classes, and you will find them with soap in their hands and in school compound. So thank you HHRD and GSP for this so unique gift, because it has brought a big impact in our school.”

Within the international community, world health has been a topic of concern. The World Bank has worked with organizations such as WHO and UNICEF gathering the most recent information about hygiene in developing and impoverished areas.

According to the World Bank, hygiene and hand washing have an immense impact on the quality of health and the ability to avoid deadly sicknesses like diarrhea and pneumonia. With over 4 billion cases of diarrhea per year, about 1.6 million of those are found in children under the age of five.

The GSP’s ideals are solidified by the World Bank, as it is suggested that, “public health promotion and education strategies are needed to change behaviors.” School health programs are imperative in ensuring that students have sanitation standards that can be translated into community principals.

The organization promotes involvement by accepting donations and volunteers and makes it easy for hotels to contribute. It has grown exponentially, expanding as a global leader in health promotion and implementation and continues to serve around the world. “Our soap doesn’t just mean health,” Kayongo says, “it means hope.”

Kimber Kraus

Photo: Flickr