Important Poverty Nonprofits
The world is full of people trying to do good, some of whom are well known and acknowledged for the work they do. Many change-makers, however, fly under the radar and do not receive the recognition they deserve for the profound changes they have generated. Some important poverty nonprofits have been working to mitigate poverty and disease worldwide for years, and they are the ones who could benefit greatly from volunteers. The following are five groups whose efforts should not go unnoticed by the world.

Five Important Poverty Nonprofits

  1. Mothers2mothers – This group focuses on alleviating the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa while empowering women and mothers living with and/or around the disease. Africa is lacking heavily in healthcare workers. Mothers2mothers is an important poverty nonprofit that hires and trains HIV-positive women to fill these roles, thus providing them with the opportunity to gain financial security for their families and giving the community access to much-needed healthcare. Through this method, thousands of jobs have been created and hundreds of thousands of lives have been saved.
  2. Partners in Health (PIH) – Founded in 1987 by world-renowned doctor Paul Farmer, PIH has made great strides in eradicating life-threatening epidemics, such as multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, in third-world countries. PIH focuses on building lasting healthcare systems in countries that are severely lacking and providing this service to the poor, who would not typically be able to afford it. To do their incredible work, PIH relies heavily on donations.
  3. Kiva – Kiva is a nonprofit that provides low-income, entrepreneurial women and students with loans to start their own small businesses. They described their mission as “to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty.” Kiva has proven that even small loans can create lasting change in the lives of those who need it. Recipients of loans through Kiva have gone on to build small businesses that allow them to support their families and stimulate the economy of their communities.
  4. Charity: water – This is a nonprofit that works to provide clean drinking water to developing countries. Charity: water uses donations to build wells that would eliminate the need for people to walk miles away to get to a water source. They also provide sand filters and rainwater catchments that promote cleanliness in drinking water, which helps to lessen the spread of disease in impoverished communities.
  5. Concern Worldwide – This organization focuses on long-term solutions in third-world countries. Concern Worldwide responds to emergencies like environmental disasters and genocide. Their past projects have included providing food and nutrition to the starving after the 1973 Ethiopian famine. They are currently working with Syrian refugees in The Middle East.

These five are just a few of many important poverty nonprofits that work to make a positive change in the world, no matter how small. Contributions to groups like these have the ability to create a ripple effect in the lives and communities of those who truly need it. Getting involved can come in any form from promoting the causes online to volunteering time to help with projects. When it comes to making a change, there is no contribution too small.

– Amelia Merchant
Photo: Flickr

In recent years, doctors and staff at hospitals in Northern Rwanda have been having trouble providing adequate care to children with cancer. It was proving to be difficult to maintain connections with the children and provide follow-up care. Children and their families are largely uneducated about long-term care when it comes to cancer, in addition to other important information such as the effects of chemotherapy. There wasn’t a nursing initiative in Rwanda to address this issue. 

Emmanuel Dushimimana, a doctor working in Rwanda with Partners in Health (a non-profit focused on providing healthcare to third-world countries) came up with a solution to start a program called the PIH Nightingale Fellowship that trains nurses to provide better patient care overall and to teach families how to provide long-term care to their children with cancer. This nursing initiative also created informational pamphlets that families were able to take home.

The program began in September 2017 and doctors reported that they quickly began seeing more children becoming involved in follow-up care. The children were returning to PIH’s medical campus in Rwanda to receive additional checkups on the long-term dangers of cancer.

Programs such as the PIH Nightingale Fellowship are essential in countries with a significant impoverished population. For instance, in Rwanda, families that are uneducated do not understand the importance of follow-up care for cancer and an educational program such as the aforementioned can save the lives of children.

The nursing initiative in Rwanda is carried out via conference calls, online webinars, mentorship and individual leadership projects to train the staff. Nurses from Boston, where PIH’s headquarters is located, have been doing rotational shifts for three months at a time in Rwanda to train their staff in handling long-term care for cancer.

The survival rate for children with cancer in developing countries is astoundingly low compared to first-world countries. It is estimated to be 25 percent in developing nations in comparison to 85 percent in developed countries. This low survival rate is largely due to the lack of awareness that prevents families from seeking medical help early on or from seeking it at all.

This new nursing initiative in Rwanda has the potential to close this survival rate gap and save the lives of numerous children with cancer.

The program has already begun to clear up scheduling issues in their operating room at the University Hospital in Rwanda. Previously, there had been no schedule which led to patients showing up and waiting for hours, not knowing when their procedure was going to happen. The operating room also had a great number of cancellations and that has dropped since the program went into effect.

The program receives necessary supplies and medical tools from the Rwanda Ministry of Health and also survives off of individual donations and foundation grants.

Patients facing poverty in addition to sickness are in the greatest need of professional health care services such as the ones PIH provides with the Nightingale Program. Thanks to the hard work and efforts of caregivers in Rwanda, children with cancer there are in much more knowledgeable hands.

– Amelia Merchant
Photo: Flickr

Mental Health in Developing Countries
Mental illness is something that has long been surrounded by a stigma, and for most countries, the treatment for mental illness is severely underfunded. People struggling with things such as depression and substance abuse disorders have faced huge barriers in their care and wellness, and unfortunately, many countries lack the amount of mental health professionals necessary to treat every individual.

Treatment of Mental Health in Developing Countries

According to The World Health Organization (WHO), low-income countries have less than one psychiatrist for every 100,000 people, and many countries spend next to nothing for mental health programs. In 2011, India spent less than one percent of its health budget on mental health care. Many countries and organizations have noticed these statistics and are now working together to end the stigma surrounding the treatment of mental health in developing countries.

In 2014, India introduced the countries first ever mental health policy. This policy will be geared towards hiring more mental health professionals, and providing increased funding to clinics and hospitals, so that they are able to implement more patient-treatment programs. This new policy was launched on the first National Mental Health Day the country ever organized, and Dr. Harsh Vardhan, India’s Union Health Minister stated that, “It is an occasion for raising peoples’ awareness on mental illness, and removing the false perceptions attached to them.”

Organizational Involvement

The United Nations (U.N.) is also doing its part to ensure people all over the world have access to treatment for mental health. In 2015, The U.N. included mental health and substance abuse treatment in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). For the first time, world leaders are recognizing the importance of providing substantial treatment for those struggling with mental health and addition issues. WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan states that “the inclusion of noncommunicable diseases under the health goal is a historical turning point. Finally, these diseases are getting the attention they deserve.”

Partners in Health (PIH) is yet another organization determined to end the stigma surrounding mental health in developing countries. This group partners with countries to establish more inclusive mental health treatment programs. Such organizations have made their foci the implementation of health programs in the neediest countries.

After the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010, PIH started a mental health system to serve an area of over one million people. PIH also started a mental health training model in Rwanda called MESH (Mentoring and Advanced Supervision at Health Centers), whose focus is providing affordable, community-based care.

Recognizing and Aiding Mental Health

Across many countries, mental health and addiction issues are beginning to be seen as legitimate health problems. For so long, thousands of people have been unable to access the care that they truly need, and over the past several years, this lack has begun to change. With a staggering amount of the global population burdened with things such as anxiety and depression, governments and organizations all over the world are beginning to see treatment for these diseases as a priority.

No longer are people forced to feel alone in their struggles, with no hope of much-needed care and support. With more funding aimed at treatment programs and the hiring of more care professionals, people everywhere are finally one step closer to getting the help they deserve.

– Allisa Rumreich
Photo: Flickr

Medical Anthropology Improves AidMedical anthropology, the study of health and healthcare in the context of specific cultures, exemplifies how the application of social sciences can improve policymaking. Medical anthropologists work within communities and observe health behaviors, which provides them with qualitative data that can inform healthcare-related aid. In this way, medical anthropology improves aid. Medical anthropologists have not only created aid organizations, such as Partners in Health, but also identified health issues in developing nations and discovered ways to make aid implementation more effective.

When Ebola began spreading rapidly throughout Liberia and Sierra Leone, knowing the cause of the disease was not enough to help aid organizations combat it. In 2014, the World Health Organization conducted medical anthropology-based research to pinpoint what was promoting the virulence of the disease. Among other data, the study found that the culture of burial in Liberia and Sierra Leone contributed significantly to the spread of Ebola.

WHO and other organizations’ attempts to quell Ebola include the cremation of the virus’ victims. However, the locals of Liberia and Sierra Leone view such a practice as an affront to their culture and traditions. In these regions, it is customary to have intimate contact with bodies during funeral ceremonies, including washing the corpse and even kissing it.

In order to eliminate the influence of regional funeral customs on Ebola transmission, WHO began promoting culturally compliant alternatives to burial rather than cremation. Funeral ceremonies performed for individuals who have died in war, which do not require a physical body, are now an encouraged alternative for the burial of Ebola victims. For the moment, Ebola outbreaks have been controlled. According to the CDC, over 25,000 cases of Ebola were recorded in West Africa between 2014 and 2016, while only 8 cases were reported from May 2017 to July 2017.

The Ebola crisis is not the only example of how medical anthropology improves aid and contributes to better global health. In 1997, researchers at the University of South Florida searched for cultural explanations for the shocking prevalence of dengue fever in the Dominican Republic. They discovered that, for a start, dengue education needed to be reformed.

In Dominican culture, women are in charge of collecting water for the household, so health organizations teach women how to clean water and prevent mosquitoes, the vectors of dengue fever, from breeding. However, men in Dominican communities control stored water, kept outside the home. The anthropologists discovered that men had not been taught how water sources and dengue were related, and thus left stored water sources uncovered, which allowed dengue-carrying mosquitoes to spawn.

The insight provided by medical anthropology allows aid organizations to implement healthcare reforms in culturally sensitive ways that are cohesive with local traditions, which in turn makes them more effective. Additionally, living within a culture, as many anthropologists do, helps them detect overlooked behaviors that may seriously impact health and healthcare initiatives.

Mary Efird

Photo: Flickr

Expanding Healthcare in Peru
Although Peru has been continuing to prosper within recent years, there are still many Peruvians who live well below the poverty line. Peru’s government, along with partnering organizations, have been working to increase the coverage of health care in Peru. Target areas include those who live in rural areas with limited access to health care, as well as those living in urban communities that cannot afford health care.

In 2009, the Peruvian government passed a law mandating universal health insurance as a right for all Peruvians. Under the new extension of coverage, pregnant women and those with children under the age of five now qualified for the Ministry of Health’s (Ministerio de Salud, MINSA) Integral Health Insurance (Seguro Integral de Salud, SIS) program. At the start of last year, 2015 newborns whose parents did not have health insurance became automatically covered under SIS.

The Ministry’s desire to ensure health care for all Peruvians inspired SIS Entrepreneur, which covers independent workers and the School Health Plan, which covers children enrolled in school. MINSA’s efforts are truly making a difference, health insurance coverage has increased since 2010 by 20 percent, and 80 percent of Peruvians are now covered.

Despite the increase in health insurance, the expansion of services to rural areas remains a challenge. Incentives and compensation pay for working in rural areas or high priorities zones were introduced to help even out the density of health care workers.

Reformation on all levels of health care in Peru has been a priority within the past few years. At the end of 2014, a plan to repair and modernize facilities was released. The completion of the plan saw to the reconstruction of 170 provincial hospitals, 23 regional hospitals and 13 national hospitals. Major improvements on three specialty hospitals are to begin at the end of this year.

The proficiency of the Peruvian health care system also relies heavily on the networks’ abilities to work efficiently with one another. There are five leading health care sectors, as well as the private health care services. Thus, in 2013, there was a restructuring of services, resulting in the creation of a general overseer, the Management Institute of Health Services. MIHS improved the availability of primary services by making it easier for the other networks to respond to patients from SIS providers and broadened the pharmaceutical pool through integrating public providers.

Although MINSA is diligent with their plans for reformation and has made undebatable headway, humanitarian organizations still play a key role in providing health care in Peru. The Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children (FIMRC) works in two primary locations: Huancayo, an urbanized poor sector, and La Merced, a jungle area that is rich with native culture. FIMRC works with the hospitals there to improve health education in the community. The majority of health complications within these areas are preventable through basic hygiene knowledge.

Partners in Health is another organization deeply rooted in Peru. PIH is a partner with MINSA, and they operate 10 clinics situated in poverty stricken sections of Lima that would not have health care otherwise. PIH works to provide health education to the communities and is very invested in meeting the needs of the residents.

PIH is also a global leader in the study and treatment of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). PIH began the construction of the Center for Global Health Delivery recently. The center, located north of Lima, will be a place to treat those with MDR-TB and act as a research facility for disease experts.

As the Oxford Business Group pointed out, investment is the key to the continued expansion and improvement of health care in Peru. Right now, Peru’s gross domestic product on health care is regionally low, at three percent. If Peru can continue to prioritize health care and increase their investment, health care will thrive.

Amy Whitman

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.

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


Top 10 Global Poverty Nonprofits
Let’s begin with the obvious, all of us at The Borgen Project… are big fans of The Borgen Project. Our bias aside, below is a list of 10 of the top global poverty nonprofits and their commendable work.


Top Global Poverty Nonprofits


1. The Borgen Project – The Borgen Project has taken the plight of the world’s poor to the political level. With access to most members of Congress and an advocacy network of volunteers in every state, The Borgen Project is considered one of the most politically influential organizations fighting for the world’s poor.

2. ONE Campaign – ONE Campaign uses grassroots and advocacy to raise awareness and money to help put a stop to global poverty. They mainly focus their attention on those living in impoverished conditions in Africa.

3. Global Giving – Global Giving is a charity fundraising web site that gives nonprofits from anywhere in the world a chance to raise the money that they need to improve their communities. Since 2002, the project has raised $114,889,647 from 392,257 donors and has supported 10,252 projects.

4. UNICEF – UNICEF is one of the largest nonprofit organizations and it is dedicated to helping children in need. UNICEF does so much for children around the globe, all while promoting education for girls and better health for pregnant women.

5. Partners in Health – Partners in Health is another nonprofit much like [email protected], which is geared towards providing a better quality of living and preventing disease. Partners in Health partners with doctors and health institutions across the globe to provide much needed relief for people who would otherwise be unable to afford health care.

6. GiveWell – GiveWell is a combination of several top rated charities all over the world. Most, if not all, of these charities provide relief for impoverished people in every nation.

7. CARE – CARE wants to cut poverty off at its roots. This nonprofit provide tools for people who are at a higher risk of falling into poverty and they help them to be successful and rise above the poverty within their nations.

8. Life in Abundance – Life in Abundance is a Christian-run organization that mobilizes churches and missionaries alike to provide relief for those who are suffering. This nonprofit wants to provide a healthier lifestyle to those who are living in poverty.

9. International Rescue Committee – The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people to survive and rebuild their lives to prevent global poverty. The nonprofit was founded in 1933 due to a request from Albert Einstein himself. The IRC has since offered lifesaving care and life-changing assistance to refugees forced to flee from war or disaster.

10. [email protected] – [email protected], while not primarily putting an end to global poverty, is trying to eradicate one facet of it. [email protected] is a nonprofit that provides vaccinations for those less fortunate so they will not be plagued by preventable diseases.



Sources:, CARE, GiveWell, Global Giving, International Rescue Committee, Life in Abundance, Partners in Health, Philanthropedia, The Borgen Project, UNICEF
Photo: The Guardian

Last Sunday, the Brookings Institute held its 10th annual Blum Conference on global development. This year, the conference emphasized the increasingly significant role of the private sector in lifting the world out of poverty.

Currently, 1.2 billion people still languish in extreme poverty, which is defined as living on less than $1.25 a day. The head of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, recently made sweeping promises that by 2030, that number will have dwindled to less than 300 million. And, by all appearances, Kim’s claim has a solid basis: in the past decade, global extreme poverty rates have been cut in half.

The recent Brookings conference in Aspen, Colorado confirms that hope. And, more importantly, it lays out the path to achieve it: by engaging the private sector on a large scale. World leaders like Partners in Health co-founder Paul Farmer, UN Human Rights commissioner Mary Robinson, and former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice used their voices on Sunday to reinforce this principle. Major development agencies have already been operating with this idea, including USAID which leveraged over $525 million in private investment last year alone.

The road forward, however, contains many obstacles. Homi Kharas, the author of Brookings’ policy brief, “Reimagining the Role of the Private Sector in Development,” lays out three major hurdles for partnerships between the private sector and the public, academic, and civil sectors.

The first is the massive project of adapting to private funding in development. As part of the process, Kharas recommends that development agencies project “leverage ratios” that link public dollars to private dollars. He applauds the Power Africa Act for using $7 billion in government spending to guarantee $9 billion in private investment pledges.

Secondly, innovation is the key to increasing agricultural productivity and improving access to necessities like water and medicine. Kharas argues that public subsidies for private-led innovation in these areas need to increase to harness the creative power of for-profit businesses.

Finally, Kharas suggests that perhaps the greatest obstacle to engagement is mistrust of private companies by public and civil actors. To build confidence and pave the way for future partnerships, companies need to make their footprints and supply chains more transparent.

“Every high-level development report and project now has private sector involvement,” wrote Kharas. “The time is ripe to systematize this approach and experiment with new forms of partnerships.”

– John Mahon

Sources: Devex, Brookings
Photo: Carnegie

While many human rights activists address a wide spectrum of issues, Paul Farmer focuses his efforts on an often-overlooked human right – the right to health.

Farmer is a medical anthropologist at Harvard Medical School and the founding director of Partners in Health, an international organization that seeks to address the health problems of the poor. An enthusiastic human rights advocate, Farmer believes that human rights organizations have focused too much on political and civil rights, which cannot be enjoyed when people lack access to basic healthcare and nutrition.

Farmer says that his experience working as a doctor in countries like Haiti and Rwanda revealed to him that ill health is usually “a symptom of poverty and violence and inequality” that can only be remedied by “bringing…many others” into a movement to recognize basic human rights.

Farmer points out that many of his patients “can vote but…can’t get medical care or clean water,” highlighting the discrepancy between the constitutional rights of the world’s poor and the basic human right to health that they are regularly denied. So how, when millions of people die each year due to poverty-induced ill health, can the global community even begin to establish health as a fundamental and inalienable human right?

Farmer says that the key is to “go to people with power and try to get their help.” He acknowledges that Partners in Health and similar aid organizations cannot singlehandedly establish health as a globally-recognized human right, but ordinary people can make a difference in the lives of the world’s poor and sick simply by letting those in power know they care.

While the poverty and illness present in the world may appear overwhelming, Farmer stresses that we must not assume that those in power will not help. In order to change the world, though, we have to ask.

Katie Bandera

Sources: NPR, NY Times, WHO
Photo: The Daily Beast

Jim Yong Kim
CARABAYLLO, Peru — This week, the President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, returned to the small village of Carabayllo in Peru, where he has been working for many years to reduce Tuberculosis. Kim co-founded the health NGO, Socios en Salud (SES), in 1994, and has since served an estimated population of 700,000 inhabitants of small shantytowns around the capital, Lima. A sister organization of Partners in Health (PIH), the history of SES provides a poignant lesson on fighting poverty.

When SES was founded, its main focus was primary healthcare, but this changed when a Boston priest working in Carabayllo died of multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB). President Kim launched an investigation, which soon found many others in the region suffering from drug-resistant TB. From there on, the organization came up against many challenges.

The government initially refused to treat the TB patients, and when they did agree, the costs were huge. After securing funding from a Boston philanthropist, 75 people suffering from MDR-TB were treated. In such a poor community, this was almost unprecedented. Only in Haiti had a small group of people been successfully treated in a similar setting. But, after four months of treatment, 90% of the patients in Carabayllo no longer had infectious TB, and it was this success that led the World Bank to support MDR-TB treatment in the developing world.

President Kim visited the small village in Peru, and made acute observations about the needs of the community, acknowledging that the fight against MDR-TB was not only a medical problem, but a social justice problem, too. Jamie Bayona, co-founded of SES, said of President Kim “his approach was fixing the problem from the root, not just from what was bothering them on the surface. Socios treated people, and also offered counseling, job training, and food packets.”

This represented a learning curve for both President Kim and the World Bank. Kim said in an interview that the World Bank is not just about financing and macro-economic policy, but also about working in communities like Carabayllo to address issues of poverty, and find lasting solutions. In addition to treating people with MDR-TB, SES took the decision to go one step further – to provide food, shelter and emotional support. “Doing all those things was a litmus test, a test for society. If [societies] could do that, my goodness, what else could you do for people and for the world?” Kim concluded.

– Chloe Isacke

Source: World Bank