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Ugandan OrphansAccording to UNICEF, approximately 65% of Ugandan minors are orphans and categorized as vulnerable children. Specifically, the country has 8 million children that are vulnerable and more than 2.2 million children who are orphans. The organization attributes these high numbers as the outcome of the AIDS pandemic. As a result, this leads to many families losing one or more parental figures in their household. Living conditions in the country lack both quality and quantity, with several structural concerns. This is especially prevalent for impoverished communities and worse for Ugandan orphans. Habitat for Humanity Uganda estimates that 900,000 housing units in the country are below standard and in dire need of upgrading. This is not including the extreme need for additional housing units across Uganda.

Inspiration to Create Weight of Glory Orphan Care

Weight of Glory Orphan Care is a nonprofit established by three college friends from Arkansas who are creating glory for Ugandan orphans. In 2010 Travis, Krystin and Megan spent a semester in college visiting the L’esperance Children’s Aid orphanage in Uganda. Within a couple of days, the three friends became invested in the connections they made with the orphans. They also cultivate a strong friendship with the director Wilbroad. During their five months stay, these three students viewed the orphanage’s daily struggles, especially as they planned to relocate in the near future.

Like many other orphanages, the L’esperance is highly dependent on volunteers and international donations. Upon arriving back in the U.S., the three friends kept in touch with Wilbroad. They discovered that in the relocation process to Lake Victoria, the orphanage had lost much of their regular donation support. In the summer of 2014, only 20 out of the 78 kids had a home. Additionally, many had to be sent to distant boarding schools due to a lack of education funds at L’esperance.

Establishing Weight of Glory

Travis, Krystin and Megan informed their communities of the difficulties the Ugandan children were suffering. They received support in tremendous ways. In addition, the support led to the realization that a U.S. based nonprofit organization that invests in orphaned kids in Uganda was a possibility. Within the first two years of establishing Weight of Glory, the nonprofit was able to assist in rebuilding a Kinoyo Kindergarten classroom. The classroom has the capacity for 120 children. Additionally, the goal of the Arkansas-based nonprofit is to produce sustainable solutions for Ugandan orphanages. As a result, it leads to the construction of a poultry farm that houses 1,000 chicks at L’esperance.

Weight of Glory Helps Ugandan Orphans

The Weight of Glory Orphan Care commits to creating sustainable projects that help the orphans directly. For example, sponsorship for 25 children at L’esperance, taking the primary role as an international partner and holding Gala fundraising events to educate the local communities about orphanages in Uganda. But one of the bigger projects that has had success is the read-a-thons at local schools. During this project, local U.S. children are educated about the daily lives of Ugandan children. The program also promotes donations that assist in providing school supplies to the primary school children in L’esperance. Additionally, they sell merchandise online that helps support their status as a nonprofit organization and goes directly to supporting Ugandan orphans.

From their time spent at L’esperance, the three friends discovered the four categories by which the children find support at L’esperance. Primary school orphans are dependent on the orphanage for their education from a very young age. Meanwhile, secondary school orphans are finishing their education through L’esperance. On the other hand, community students are residents of the local community with limited access to essentials such as food and clothing. These children are invited to the Kinyo Kindergarten at L’esperance for support and education from a young age. But the main group is resident orphans, who are completely dependent on the orphanage, from living quarters to education programs.

Megan, Krystin and Travis drew on their experience in Uganda to build the Weight of Glory Orphan Care nonprofit. The success of the nonprofit lies in partnering with local communities with international partners that can support the orphanages. These friends’ nonprofit is creating glory for Ugandan orphans by attempting to carry the heavyweight of caring and shining a light on the stories untold in global orphanages.

Sumeet Waraich
Photo: Flickr

Orphans in Tanzania
Team Nelson is a nonprofit organization based out of Atlanta, GA that works to send orphans in Tanzania to school. In 2017, there was a 79 percent net enrollment rate in primary school but only a 23 percent net enrollment rate in secondary school. After primary school, many teenagers have to find work to help provide for their families, so retention is a huge issue in secondary school. Many of the orphanages in Arusha, Tanzania lack the funds to send their children to school, so McCrea O’Haire and her board began to raise money to send the first boy she met, Nelson, to school. From there, it grew.

Team Nelson has been successfully raising money and awareness in order to send more Tanzanian orphans to school. The organization also encourages kids to prioritize their education and reap the greater benefits of completing their education instead of leaving to find work. The Borgen Project had the opportunity to interview McCrea O’Haire about Team Nelson about sending orphans to school in Tanzania.

Who is Nelson?

Nelson is one of the first kids that O’Haire met in Tanzania and the inspiration behind Team Nelson. Upon first meeting him, she recalls him having a reserved and shy nature, as he was just trying to blend in with the other children. It was not until she learned of his situation that she saw him for who he really was and “realized how important it is to help the invisible children that people might not notice.” She eventually decided to transform Team Nelson into much more than just one child. Originally, she did not intend to do anything other than sending Nelson to school, but she received an outpour of support from family and friends which snowballed her intentions. Once she felt the support around her, she had the inspiration to do more.

The Future of Team Nelson

In running this nonprofit, O’Haire cites two main challenges. Firstly, everyone in the organization also works full-time jobs and have careers, so there are many difficult compromises that it must make. Secondly, there are always language barriers and cultural differences her team encounters when they visit Arusha. She cites their desire “to help people living across the world while not interrupting their cultural flow or offending anyone,” noting that this is not always easy.

Within the next five years, O’Haire hopes the organization continues its current trajectory. In the past year and a half, it has been able to send 18 children to school, so in five years, it would like to send around 50 or more kids. One of her favorite things about Team Nelson is the “one to one love” that they currently have. She wants to help as many kids as possible but also does not want the program to include thousands of kids that members of the organization have never met.

Addressing Systemic Issues in Tanzania

AIDS killed Nelson’s mother and alcoholism afflicted his father. His family alone represents a larger, systematic issue resulting in the death of many parents and caretakers in Tanzania, which has left about 3.1 million orphans in Tanzania. O’Haire cites this problem as one of the main reasons she and her team decided to create Team Nelson; “A lot of the problems in Tanzania revolve around offering more opportunities for education and helping the children further their lives with increased resources and tools.” She emphasizes the importance of sexual health education that children receive in school and the need for recurring doctor’s appointments.

If the government continues to receive pressure to employ more top-down approaches, she says, there will be drastic improvements in health and education. Fortunately, the Tanzanian government recently decided to make all lower-secondary education free in order to retain more students, as there are currently 1.5 million adolescents that are not in school.

Although it is quite difficult to live in rural Tanzania right now, O’Haire underscores the positivity of everyone she has met there. Prior to her trips there, she prepares herself to be the beacon of hope and energy that they may need but quickly reminds herself that Tanzanians are a happy group. In hard times, she reminds herself of the objectives of Team Nelson, which is sending children to school. She must often turn down requests but notes the importance of staying focused on her organization’s goals and trust in that impact.

If you would like to help Team Nelson and the orphans in Tanzania, O’Haire encourages a monthly donation of just $10, which directly contributes to getting children an education. In the case that providing a financial contribution is not possible, she hopes that “people will spread the word about this cause and really care about the problems our world is facing.”

To learn more, please visit https://www.weareteamnelson.com/.

– Jessica Haidet
Photo: Flickr

children_for_changeThe Khmer Rouge genocide is a historic atrocity that devastated the people of Cambodia from 1975-1979. The country is still struggling to rehabilitate its debilitated economy and depleted resources.

After the genocide, families’ structures were left fragmented and splintered. The disruption of the family unit left little hope or vision of the future. Many families in Cambodia chose to have their children earn income to help sustain the family as opposed to attending school.

These children are at high risk of exploitation. The Children for Change in Cambodia organization is dedicated to helping children who have been exploited, are being exploited or who are at a high risk for being exploited. It has created programs, as well as classes and services designed to encourage success for this demographic.

The Children for Change is a nonprofit organization in Phnom Penh that serves to heal historical wounds through the use of education and exposure to opportunities.

The school sits on the outskirts of Phnom Penh in one of the red light districts. It is a small and community-based organization that strives to help children in the most vulnerable areas.

The school offers various programs unique to the area. Program Design, Academic Bridge to Success, Vocational training and Program Assessment are examples of programs specially designed to enhance the academic experience for students.

The Children for Change in Cambodia also conducts social action projects. These assist students in giving back to their communities. The purpose is to emphasize the importance of community, to instill pride in their communities and to learn from community leaders and other role models.

In Cambodia, primary schools have the most students, followed by the lower secondary and upper secondary schools. Private and traditional schools segregate by age. This serves as a further deterrent for older kids to start school when they are not considered the proper age.

The Children for Change, Cambodia welcomes students of all ages and all levels. All of the classes have multiple ages. The ages of the students range from five to 16 years of age. Classes are based upon the level of education of the students.

In addition, the organization has emergency services for their students in need. For example, they give temporary housing to students when it is no longer safe to go home or to those who are experiencing homelessness.

Those that need emergency housing are not uprooted from school or familiar surroundings. This is important because many of the students have had transient lifestyles. The organization is sensitive to the unique needs of the population it serves.

The Children for Change, Cambodia provides educational services and social support to young students that are at high risk of trafficking. Quality education and skill-building techniques increase the likelihood of excelling in society.

Erika Wright

Sources: Cultural Quest, The Children for Change, Cambodia, Time
Photo: Flickr

etta_projects
Etta Turner was 16 years old when she traveled to Bolivia as an International Rotary exchange student in 2002. Known for her compassion and commitment to social justice, the teen was prepared to provide for the less fortunate and help them change their lives. What was supposed to be a year away from her home and family in the States, however, turned into a lifetime when Turner was tragically killed in a bus accident.

The following year, in 2003, Turner’s friends and family founded Etta Projects, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the life and service of Turner. The organization works with the people of Montero, Bolivia, helping members of the community lead sustainable lives and achieve improved health conditions. Etta Projects supports projects that provide clean water, healthy food, quality education and stable income.

In the western hemisphere, Bolivia is the second poorest country after Haiti, with nearly 70 percent of its population living in poverty. About 23 percent of the population lives on less than $1 a day and 42 percent on less than $2 a day. Furthermore, about 90 percent of Bolivia’s children attend primary school, but only for a year or less: the average literacy rate of a 16-year-old Bolivian is at the third-grade level.

Etta Projects is dedicated to changing these statistics and helping the people of Bolivia. The organization is unique, however, in that it does not simply send money or resources to Bolivia. Rather, it connects with the Bolivian people to understand what they need and teaches them how to personally meet those needs.

To address and eliminate poverty in Bolivia, Etta Projects provides forums in which members of the community can identify their own problems and create plans to solve them. The organization forms strong, fundamental relationships with the communities it helps and the local governments that run them. They use their own resources and the available resources of the community to empower the communities to tackle their problems and issues.

The organization has five main projects: safe water and sanitation, health, nutrition, leadership and U.S. community outreach. Etta Projects is making a lasting difference in many Bolivian lives by listening to community needs, providing resources to meet those needs and leaving the community with valuable skills to lead sustainable lives. Miss Turner’s legacy of compassion and social justice absolutely lives on in the mission of Etta Projects.

Sarah Sheppard

Sources: Etta 1, Etta 2, Etta 3
Photo: Doctors Without Borders

Energetica Supplies Energy Systems to Communities in Bolivia
According to a survey conducted by Energetica, a nonprofit organization located in Cochabamba, many citizens in Bolivia believe that the more energy they have, the better. Energetica is working to fight this misconception. Their mission is to provide equal energy to Bolivians and seek proactive ways to encourage a greater and more rational use of energy. To promote this, Energetica diversifies energy supply sources, provides efficient development for energy sources and utilizes renewable energy to contribute to environmental conservation.

Their vision is to improve the quality of life of disadvantaged Bolivians, increase productivity and preserve the environment. Some of their methods consist of training individuals for management and human resources roles, finding solutions through technology and innovation, and increasing access to energy for impoverished citizens.

Energetica was started on February 18, 1993 by now-Executive Director Miguel Fuentes Fernandez. The team is made up of a set of advisers, technicians and project managers who come together to create and implement projects throughout Bolivia.

They divide their work methods into four different programs. The first program focuses on developing access to energy to extend the coverage of energy services in rural and urban areas so that it can be used domestically and for community and productivity uses. They do so by looking at three different things: how energy is used in a household, how it is used in the community and how it can be utilized to create more energy.

They use municipal projects to gauge the average household’s energy consumption and then apply this information to help families obtain the access to the energy that they need to improve the quality of lighting, communication and cooking.

Project managers create projects to strengthen social infrastructure in order to improve health and education in rural areas. Lastly, to increase energy, Energetica promotes dedicating different energy sources—such as natural gases, biomass and solar energy—to productivity, harnessing it to optimize internal management mechanisms.

The second program focuses on sharing knowledge. To complete this project, they educate the residents of Bolivia through seminars, workshops and training sessions to teach them how to efficiently use and conserve energy. This ties into the third program, which involves meeting with citizens to become better informed about their demands. With this knowledge, they are able to help provide more energy and education where it is needed.

The fourth and final program involves strengthening institutions and companies. This program focuses on meeting with companies to train employers on energy-saving tactics, teaching them about the importance of sharing energy and evaluating their energy use. This helps keep companies and big organizations from overusing energy.

Right now, Energetica has projects happening all over Bolivia. In the last 15 years, they have successfully installed over 31,000 renewable energy components throughout the country. In addition, they have trained 70,000 citizens of Bolivia in energy conservation and knowledge sharing. The project will be continued until Bolivia is supplied with optimal energy.

Julia Hettiger

Sources: Energetica, Matador Network, Market Watch
Photo: Energetica

social_workersThe National Association of Social Workers is one of the largest membership organizations that is set up to help those who fight for the common and basic rights of humans, the social workers. It has been working to enhance the professional growth and development of its members, to create and maintain professional standards and to advance sound social policies.

The NASW has around 132,000 members. To help regulate the vast amount of manpower, the NASW is broken up into chapters. With a total of 55 chapters, all states have at least one chapter. Each chapter has a board of directors that develops unique programs to better serve its members and to facilitate participation by its members.

All of the members of the NASW benefit from their general practice of enhancing professional development. The members are offered benefits that lead to opportunities that reward important credentials for working in the field.

The NASW’s Credentialing Center provides the programs in which members and non-members can participate and learn. The Center establishes and promotes NASW Professional Credentials, Advanced Practice Specialty Credentials, and the Continuing Education Portal. These embody the message of the NASW: to enhance your professional career in social work. Credentialing allows the social working careerist to differentiate themselves from those who take social work less seriously.

Another focus of the NASW is advocacy. Much like The Borgen Project, the NASW believes that affecting policy change is one of the best ways to initiate change for the better. Social workers have sought to ensure that all people have equal access to the resources and opportunities that allow them to meet their basic needs. So it is important to advocate legislation that will benefit the community and also benefit those social workers looking to help that same community.

The NASW keeps their advocacy work organized through their Policy Agenda. This Policy Agenda prioritizes which legislation the NASW will support when legislation cycles roll around. Some of the issues that the NASW would consider key right now are: Medicare Reimbursement, Affordable Care Act Integration, Student Loan forgiveness, Child Welfare and several more.

The NASW has even tried to expand its influence past American borders. With a combined effort from USAID and other key stakeholders, the NASW held a conference in Africa in order to improve the working conditions of social workers in Africa in order to help fight off the HIV/AIDS virus. The NASW also helped with Tanzania’s social worker community, trying to strengthen and unite the social workers under the Tanzanian Social Worker Association.

With righteous causes and enticing benefits, the NASW is assembling a work force that is capable of making big changes to how efficiently social workers can function in our society. The NASW is fighting for the greater good. So put the NASW on your reading list, right up there with The Borgen Project.

Erik Nelson

Sources: USAID,  SocialWorkers.org
Photo: California University of Pennsylvania

global impact
Global Impact is a group dedicated to forming partnerships and aiding both nonprofits and private sector organizations. By providing both secretariat and advisory resources, Global Impact has helped over 100 international charities, 100 private sector entities and 300 public sector entities flourish.

Global Impact was established in 1956. Since its inception, over $1.6 billion has been raised in order to help the world’s most impoverished people. Global Impact helps charities like Save the Children, Doctors Without Borders, the U.S. Fund for UNICEF and World Vision.

The organization seeks to develop effective strategies for giving, from the donors to the charities they want to support. More recently, Global Impact decided to team up with CollaborateUP. Global impact explains the CollaborateUP as “a boutique consulting firm advising businesses and nonprofits on how to work together to solve big problems.” According to Global Impact, CollaborateUP will “co-host an executive education program for creating shared value and maximizing strategic philanthropy.”

The program will take place between August 20 and August 22 and will act as a three-day training session for leaders of major companies dedicated to supporting nonprofits, as well as the leaders of the nonprofits themselves.

Global Impact has also been responsible for providing aid to the mass number of children who are coming to the U.S. from Central America in order to escape the poverty and violence of their homelands. The organization has been consistently working with World Vision to address the problem. Global Impact has helped World Vision organize and execute their plan to provide clothing, school supplies and shelter for these incoming children.

Global Impact has also been working with the Seattle International Fund to help alleviate issues that cause children to flee in the first place. According to Global Impact, the fund plans to invest over $1 million in the next five years to “support young adult leaders in Central America and help them to implement innovative projects within their organizations that are designed to demonstrate measureable impacts on girls’ equality and/or adolescent sexual and reproductive health rights.”

Global Impact’s primary mission is to help these nonprofit organizations effectively accomplish their goals in order to provide support to people facing extreme poverty and oppression.

– Jordyn Horowitz

Sources: CollaborateUP, Charity.org 1, Charity.org 2
Photo: Charity.org

kiva
A spinach farmer in Cambodia, a hot dog stand worker in Nicaragua, a fish seller in Uganda, a carpenter in Gaza and a bee keeper in Ghana were microfinance organization Kiva’s initial borrowers in 2005. However, Kiva has grown in scope and microfinance methods by combating global poverty from multiple angles. This week alone, 27,704 lenders made loans through Kiva.

Today, Kiva’s mission to alleviate global poverty through small-scale lending has grown far beyond its original scope. In the eight years since its inception, the nonprofit has sponsored loans totaling over $540 million. These loans fund over 1.2 million borrowers in 73 countries.

In its eighth year, Kiva is a leader in platforms for social improvement and poverty alleviation. The organization aims to empower low-income borrowers around the world to begin their own businesses, invest in home improvement and clean energies and more through small-scale loans of greater than $25.

Lenders are able to browse the profiles of people around the world who are seeking loans, and choose who they would like to support. Lenders then receive updates on the progress of their loan, connecting them to a larger global community dedicated to supporting low-income earners.

This concept of small-scale lending can be defined as microfinance. Microfinance is loans, savings and financial services for the poor or those without access to traditional banking systems, and the idea that these small-scale funds ultimately help to lift low-income borrowers out of poverty.

While effective in many ways, microfinance can also be limited in its reach due to high-risk costs and loans for more impoverished borrowers. In some situations, microfinance may not be the ideal way to assist borrowers, and cannot function as the only tool to fight against global poverty. In order to combat these limitations, Kiva seeks to be a more flexible form of microfinance by moving past economics and deeper into issues of agriculture, education and clean energy.

Currently, only 0.3 percent of microfinance borrowers take out loans for energy solutions. Kiva aims to combat the barriers of high cost and availability faced by low-income earners by taking on more creative, pay-as-you-go lending systems for borrowers. With credit delivered in more flexible ways, users are able to benefit from technologies while making their payments over longer periods of time.

Over the next decade, Kiva hopes to see clean energy products become regularities for its borrowers around the world. The ultimate goal for the nonprofit is the use of sustainable supply chains, improvement of health and well being and falling prices for renewable energy products.

Kiva has also increased awareness of microfinance in educational communities around the world. In August 2013, the organization launched Kiva U, a movement for students and educators dedicated to changing the world through microfinance. The initiative provides toolkits, resources and potential curriculum to promote communities where high school students, college-age students and teachers can connect and share ideas.

In October, Kiva hosted its inaugural Kiva U Summit, where 150 students and teachers came together to connect and discuss microfinance in an evolving world. In the same month, Kiva hit its one million lender milestone.

Through creative mechanisms and user-oriented strategies, Kiva has proven the potential for microfinance success in addressing low-income communities.

“Our approach is to see what works and share the results with a global audience,” Kiva President Premal Shah said. “Ultimately, our hope is to get high-impact products to people who have been too long overlooked, and demonstrate their success to the global market.”

 – Julia Thomas

Sources: The Borgen Project, Kiva, Kiva(2), Triple Pundit, MIT Press Journals
Photo: Design to Improve Life

Bread_For_The_Word
Bread for the World, a Washington D.C. based nonprofit organization, is urging government leaders and communities of faith to end hunger.

Every day, around 16,000 children die from hunger related causes. 1.5 billion people live in extreme poverty in developing nations around the world, but developed nations are not exempt from the problem of hunger – nearly 15 percent of those living in the U.S. have struggled with food insecurity at some point in their life.

Motivated by the belief that ordinary people can do “plenty” to end global hunger, Bread for the World seeks to empower U.S. citizens to voice their support of hunger-fighting policies to their elected representatives. A bipartisan “collective Christian voice,” their network includes thousands of individuals, churches and denominations – therefore creating an impact that reaches far beyond their local communities.

After analyzing policy, Bread for the World creates strategies to move toward their ultimate goal – to end hunger at home and abroad. The movements they create within churches, campuses and other organizations help build political commitment to overcome poverty. Bread for the World accomplishes their work with integrity, earning a four star Charity Navigator rating and spending an impressive 82.9 percent of their budget on deliverable programs and services.

Bread for the World Institute, the educational wing of Bread for the World, exists to conduct extensive research on food policy and provide information to Bread for the World’s advocacy network. Their studies empower constituents with information to ultimately change the politics of hunger.

For 2014, Bread for the World is focusing its efforts on reforming U.S. food aid, calling for the economically powerful U.S. government to use their resources more efficiently and effectively. Bread for the World estimates that with improvements and changes, 17 million more people could benefit from food aid each year without any additional costs to taxpayers.

Find more information and extensive educational materials, visit www.bread.org.

– Madisson Barnett

Sources: Bread For the World, Charity Navigator
Photo: Food Tank