CARE International

From Europe to Everywhere

CARE International is one of the foremost aid organizations in the world. It has a long and distinguished history, having been established in 1945 to help survivors of World War II in Europe. Today, CARE operates in more than 90 countries, runs 1,033 projects that serve more than 80 million people, and holds more than $584,161 in financial resources.

The beginnings of CARE were very different than the organization that exists today. Many people today may not realize that the term care package, now part of the everyday English lexicon, began as a registered trademark of CARE—an acronym that originally stood for “Cooperative for American Remittances to Europe.”

But CARE—which now stands for “Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere”—has changed dramatically over its more than 70 years of operation. Not only has it grown in size, but it has also changed focus. While CARE started by sending commodities to hungry people in Europe, it has evolved into an organization that is both more global and more local, both broader and more focused.

International and Local

One of the biggest changes CARE has undergone since its inception is a change in scale. In 1979, CARE changed its name to Care International and transitioned from a U.S. organization to an international organization with 14 branches around the world. While the largest branch is CARE USA in Atlanta, CARE International’s central headquarters is in Geneva.

At the same time, CARE International has moved away from one-size-fits-all aid, like the CARE package, and toward locally focused aid. It makes an effort to hire employees from the localities that receive the benefits of aid projects, so the people tasked with implementing programs have a deep understanding of local needs and obstacles.

In the words of CARE USA’s previous CEO, Helene Gayle, “Now instead of just focusing on the consequences of poverty and lack of access to basic needs, we also focus on the underlying causes… We look at how you have a longer-term impact on the lives of the communities in which we work… and we work not only on relief and emergency situations but continuing from relief to recovery to development, and building resiliency so communities that are affected from time to time by emergencies are able to respond and bounce back better.”

Helping Women and Girls

Gayle, as CEO of CARE USA, ushered in another major change, this one a change of focus. Under her leadership, CARE starting focusing its efforts on women and girls.

This is because, in Gayle’s view, “Girls and women bear the brunt of poverty around the world.” She explains elsewhere, “if women and girls have an opportunity, there’s this catalytic effect. A girl who is educated is more likely to marry later, have fewer children, have a greater economic future for her children, get them into school, etc.”

CARE’s focus on the wellbeing of women and girls has generated impressive results. For instance, in one CARE program in Bangladesh designed to reduce malnutrition in children, aid workers realized that the program was most effective “when households also participated in activities that contributed to women’s empowerment.” CARE began by creating programs to increase educational access to women and fight domestic violence, and the nutrition benefits followed.

CARE International is a storied organization that could have continued along the path it started in 1945. In order to have an impact on a changing world, though, the organization decided to change. In the process, it has provided a lesson in flexible, dynamic global aid work in the 21st century.

-Eric Rosenbaum
Photo: Flickr

influential women
Female entrepreneurs, activists and politicians are making strides in overcoming global inequalities. These four influential women are presidents, CEOs and founders, garnering support for female empowerment around the world.

1. Michelle Bachelet was the first female president of Chile. After leaving the presidency, she became the first executive director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women). In 2013, she was re-elected as president of Chile, winning by a landslide. During her terms, she targeted trade relations between South American nations and the Asia-Pacific.

2. Sonia Gandhi is the president of the Indian National Congress and the leader of the United Progressive Alliance, the ruling party in the lower house of India’s Parliament. Her high-ranking position wields great political influence. Gandhi’s humanitarian work has led her to be awarded The Lions Humanitarian Award in 2010.

3. Wendy Kopp is the CEO and co-founder of Teach For All. She founded Teach For America in 1989 “to build the movement to eliminate educational inequality by enlisting our nation’s most promising future leaders in the effort.” Thanks to Kopp, more than 10,000 Teach For America corps members are teaching worldwide for two-year commitments.

4. Helene Gayle is the president and CEO of CARE USA, one of the nation’s leading international humanitarian organizations. CARE’s efforts reached 122 million in the past year in more than 80 countries. Gayle works to empower women and young girls through policy and advocacy efforts. Further, Gayle works with the Centers for Disease Control on HIV/AIDS, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on HIV/AIDS and other global health issues, and currently serves on the boards for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Rockefeller Foundation, Colgate-Palmolive Company, ONE, and the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Affairs Policy Board. Among this and a more extensive work history, Gayle’s work is enormous in addressing global inequalities.

– Lin Sabones

Sources: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Lions Club International, Teach For All, Forbes
Photo: Princeton Social