Instagram Accounts Raising Poverty AwarenessSocial media is a powerful tool used to spread awareness about many different topics. Many different organizations design accounts on Instagram to advocate for global poverty through powerful images and words. Here are five Instagram accounts raising poverty awareness.

5 Instagram Accounts Raising Poverty Awareness

  1. Doctors Without Borders (@doctorswithoutborders) – This organization works to provide medical care for patients all over the world, and it currently operates in more than 70 countries worldwide. Doctors Without Borders also conducts medical research on topics such as economic and social conditions in El Salvador and HIV in South Africa. The organization’s Instagram account has 581,000 followers. The account’s posts range from information about their health care projects to powerful photographs that illustrate different crises.

    A powerful animation video posted on March 18, 2020 describes the struggles that Rohingya refugee families face as they are forced to move to camps in Bangladesh, including being prone to COVID-19 and other disease outbreaks. The animation was created “to put a human face on the humanitarian crisis that devastated this community.”

  2. Pencils of Promise (@pencilsofpromise) – Pencils of Promise is a group that raises funds to build schools and combat education problems for people around the world. To date, Pencils of Promise has built 524 schools and has 108,643 students. The organization uses its Instagram platform with 210,000 followers mainly to share photos of children around the world who are receiving education and their stories. The Pencils of Promise Instagram showcases the great impact of the organization’s work.

  3. Oxfam (@oxfamamerica) – Oxfam is an organization that works to reduce poverty by providing grants to build infrastructure for the poor, encouraging the rich to allot money towards helping the poor, and helping communities recoup after disasters. The Oxfam Instagram account has more than 78,000 followers. The account creators share easy-to-read graphics, numbers and statistics related to global poverty reduction. The Oxfam Instagram also shares inspirational quotes to instill hope regarding the fight against global poverty. One of the quotes posted on the page is “Hope and fear cannot occupy the same space. Invite one to stay.”

  4. Global Citizen (@glblctzn) – Global Citizen is an organization that relies on citizens all over the world to organize events and advocate to reduce global poverty. The account, which has 530,000 followers, includes many posts from musical artists who hold mini-concerts to spread global poverty awareness. During the COVID-19 outbreak, the Global Citizen account is sharing videos with the hashtag #Togetherathome to promote social distancing and global health safety.

  5. Charity: Water (@charitywater) – Charity: Water is an organization that works to provide clean and safe water to communities of people in developing countries. The Charity: Water Instagram account has 457,000 followers. The organization’s posts show the success of its efforts and the importance of providing clean water to people worldwide. A post from April 3, 2020, celebrates the completion of “544 water projects across India, Ethiopia and Mozambique.”

With 1 billion active monthly users, Instagram can be a powerful way to spread awareness about global poverty. These five Instagram accounts raising poverty awareness are making the world a better place one post at a time.

– Shveta Shah
Photo: Flickr

Professional Athletes Who Grew Up Impoverished
The world’s population of human beings is vast and immensely complex. Across the planet, thousands of different languages, religions and traditions contribute to the everyday lives of its people. However, nearly all civilizations have one thing in common: sports. Since the development of the most ancient civilizations, humans have created numerous ways to come together and pass the time with recreation. It continues to be a major aspect of society today, so much so that athletes such as Argentinian soccer player Lionel Messi receive as much as $127 million per year. It is no secret that professionals like Messi are some of the highest-paid individuals in the world, but many of them had extremely difficult upbringings. Here are four professional athletes who grew up impoverished and used their past as motivation for the improvement of their future.

4 Professional Athletes Who Grew Up Impoverished

  1. Pelé: Pelé, one of the greatest soccer players of all time, has helped his Brazilian team win three World Cups throughout his career. He was born in Três Corações, Brazil, in 1940. He lived in extreme poverty during his childhood and developed most of his early soccer skills by playing with a makeshift bundle of rags that hardly resembled a soccer ball. Pelé’s story is a prime example of how a common cultural element such as recreation has the power to propel someone into an entirely new way of life. In 2018, Pelé launched a self-named foundation “to help children of the world better their lives as people in [his] childhood helped [him] to better [his].” The Pelé Foundation has since partnered with Pencils of Promise and Charity: Water to fulfill its mission of helping the world’s impoverished youth.
  2. Bibiano Fernandes: Bibiano Fernandes, also known as “The Flash” for his ability to finish fights so early, is one of the most successful fighters in both Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and mixed martial arts (MMA). He was born in Manaus, a city located near the Amazon rainforest. After his mother died and his father abandoned the family, 8-year-old Fernandes took to the jungle as a means of survival. He lived off of the land for approximately two years before returning to the city. Once he went back to Manaus, he worked as a window washer. During this seemingly hopeless point in his life, he met a group of men who practiced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. They accepted him into their training group and he grew into a champion. For a child who took to the forest to avoid starvation, the grappling sport was a lifeline, an opportunity for Fernandes to quite literally fight his way out of poverty. Today, he aims to reach retirement and continue to provide for his wife and children. He prides himself on having worked hard for his accomplishments and encourages his fans to pursue their goals regardless of how impossible they may seem.
  3. Yasiel Puig: Yasiel Puig has played for three major American baseball teams: the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Cincinnati Reds and now the Cleveland Indians. His nickname is “The Wild Horse” because of his unpredictable, exciting way of playing. Born into poor conditions in Cuba, Puig developed an interest in baseball at a very early age. His desire to escape his hometown and play for Mexico resulted in a journey that would change his life forever. At the age of 21, Puig snuck out of Cuba on a cigarette boat. What should have been a relatively smooth journey became complicated by the fact that the smugglers did not receive the pay they were to receive for transporting the baseball player. Restless and angry, they held him captive, occasionally threatening to cut off an arm or a finger so that he would never play baseball again. Several long, difficult weeks passed before Puig finally reached his destination. A staged kidnapping ambushed his captors and soon landed Puig at his audition to play for Mexico City. Puig proves that no matter how treacherous life’s ventures may be, the child inside remains alive and strong enough to push one forward towards their wildest dreams.
  4. Kassim Ouma: Kassim Ouma has one of the most unique stories among these professional athletes who grew up impoverished. He was born in Uganda and lived in extreme poverty until the age of 6 when his life abruptly flipped upside down. It was at this age that the National Resistance Army kidnapped Ouma, a militant force revolting against the Ugandan government. The resistance forced him to fight as a child soldier until the war ceased roughly three years later. Once he returned home, he began working to build a better future for him and his family. He took up boxing and trained his way to the Ugandan national boxing team, and later decided to stay in the U.S. after visiting for a tournament. Ouma serves as an example to all that even the darkest beginnings can lead to light at the end of the tunnel. He now uses his influence to advocate for change in Africa and runs a charity organization called Natabonic, which helps to fund education for his friends and family in his home village of Maga Maga.

These professional athletes who grew up impoverished serve as reminders that with hope and compassion, one can fight (and win) even the most impossible battles. Of course, not every starving child on the planet is going to become a world-renowned athlete and sports will not lead all participants out of poverty.  However sports can be a path to a better life and these stories emphasize that recreation brings people together, and where people come together, anything is possible.

– Harley Goebel
Photo: Flickr

BubzBeauty Helps Build Schools
Pencils of Promise is a nonprofit organization that emerged in 2008. Since then, it has built 512 schools in Ghana, Guatemala and Laos, and has helped 102,215 children obtain a quality education in those countries. Not only does the organization raise money for schools, but it also has programs to help support teachers working at and students attending these schools. Through Pencils of Promise, YouTuber BubzBeauty helps build schools in its three countries of interest.

BubzBeauty’s Involvement with Pencils of Promise

On August 8, 2015, Lindy “Bubz” Tsang announced her first campaign with Pencils of Promise to raise $50,000 to build two schools in Laos. She felt compelled to use her YouTube platform and large following to help children in poverty obtain an education and better their lives. For this first fundraiser, Bubz designed a sweatshirt for her subscribers to purchase; 100 percent of all proceeds went toward the school fund.

It was a huge success, and on January 18, 2016, Bubz released a vlog of her visit to one of the two schools, named Beauty of Knowledge. The name was a tribute to her beauty channel on YouTube, since it and its subscribers were what made the building of the school possible. As Bubz says in her vlog, “beauty doesn’t have to be just about makeup and skincare. Beauty is also knowledge.”

Building Schools in Laos and Ghana

Before the building of the new schools, the kids in Tad Thong, Laos went to school in a temporary classroom structure made from bamboo with a makeshift roof. There was no way for it to support all the children coming to attend, so the school held six grades in only three classrooms. In Saen Oudom, Laos, children also attended school in extremely poor conditions, with the building having a leaky roof and many safety hazards. Thanks to Bubz, both towns have a safe space for the kids’ education to continue and thrive. Tad Thong now has a five-classroom school and Saen Oudom a three-classroom school.

Since then, Bubz has raised money to build a total of five schools, ultimately impacting a total of 3,469 children around the world. Bubz and her beauty community have helped construct two schools in Laos and three in Ghana. The Ghana fundraiser gained monetary aid from another shirt design with all profits going toward the campaign. Additionally, Bubz created an eye shadow palette where $2 from each one sold went toward the fund. Here is a list of the three areas Bubz has helped:

  • Atravenu, Ghana: Four grades were sharing two classrooms in a chapel. This proved to be a distracting environment for both teachers and students, hindering the education process.

  • Kpando Torkor, Ghana: The school building had unfinished classrooms. The first and second graders were in the most unsafe rooms and the 91 students attending caused overcrowding, a safety hazard.

  • Mafi Agorve, Ghana: Children were attending school in makeshift structures that did not include windows or doors. This exposed them to harsh sunlight throughout the day and outdoor distractions.

With Bubz’s help, all three towns were able to build a three-unit class structure, and Kpando Torkor was also able to renovate its already existing classrooms.

Plans for the Future

In the description of her most recent update video on the schools (May 10, 2019), Bubz wrote, “When we build schools, we’re not just building a physical structure, we also build up a child’s confidence, dreams and goals. We build up communities’ potential and standard of life.” Bubz’s campaigns through BubzBeauty not only helps build schools but also helps the communities surrounding those schools flourish more than they would have without her help. Education leads to a better life for these children and brighter futures for the countries.

Even present day, BubzBeauty helps build schools with Pencils of Promise. In May 2019, she announced that profits from her formulated lipstick would go toward a fund to raise money to build a school in Guatemala.

“Not all superheroes wear capes. Some wear lipstick.” — Lindy Tsang

– Jordan Miller
Photo: Flickr

Socially Conscious BrandsCausebox is a subscription box service created by Sevenly through which customers receive handpicked products from socially conscious brands. Causebox also partners with different charities to help raise funds. Some charities or causes behind Causebox include, Tribe-Alive, Trees for the Future and Bloom and Give, just to name a few. While most curated subscription boxes just send products that match your style, Causebox tells you why they chose each brand and how each brand gives back.

Some of the items included in the subscription box include: exclusive artwork that supports global and local artists, homewares that give back to charity, apparel that empowers artisans, accessories that create opportunities for women and jewelry that creates Fair Trade jobs.

7 Socially Conscious Brands Involved With Causebox

Pencils of Promise
Currently, there are 250 million children in the world that are unable to read. Pencils of Promise, a nonprofit organization, is fighting to tackle this issue by working to build schools and create educational opportunities for children living in poverty around the world. Pencils of Promise, also known as PoP, has built more than 300 schools in developing countries while supporting and training teachers. By working with local and national governments to identify which communities need the most help, PoP believes the programs will leave a lasting impact. According to the organization, “If all students in low-income countries left school with basic reading skills, 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty – a 12 percent cut in world poverty.”

Tribe-Alive is a women’s clothing store that partners with women in Guatemala, Haiti, India, Honduras and Fort Worth, Texas. The company provides at-risk women in vulnerable areas with safe working environments and appropriate living wages. The women in these countries create handmade clothing, handbags and various accessories. By employing these women, Tribe Alive empowers them to climb out of poverty and live a successful life.

Half United
Half United is a fashion company that works to fight world hunger. Hunger and malnutrition lead to more than 50 percent of child deaths around the world. With every purchase from Half United, seven meals are provided to children in need, helping to combat the number of children in hunger. With partners in Haiti, Fiji, Cambodia and the United States, Half United also provides jobs and empowers families. Some of the company’s work includes partnering with Elevating Christian Ministries in Haiti, which provides daily bread to 5,000 students, Toms shoes and other retailers around the world. While the company partners with many different foundations, it is well-known for its flagship recycled bullet necklace that symbolizes the fight against world hunger.

Good Spread Peanut Butter
With every purchase of Good Spread Peanut Butter, a malnourished child receives a serving of therapeutic peanut butter. MANA is a “ready-to-use therapeutic food,” which is essentially a paste made from peanuts, milk powder and vitamin and mineral supplements, that is used to treat severe acute malnutrition, the leading cause of death for 2.6 million children under the age of 5. Though this paste is not yet readily available to every child in need, Good Spread Peanut Butter strives to “put a dent in global malnutrition.”

Krochet Kids Intl
Krochet Kids Intl is a lifestyle brand that empowers women in Uganda, India and Peru to rise above poverty. In 2007, the founders of Krochet Kids Intl traveled to Uganda and trained women to crochet. By teaching women in poverty to crochet and thus providing jobs, Krochet Kids Intl is breaking the cycle of poverty. The brand also works with the nonprofit, Capable, to provide education, mentorship and financial services to its employees.

Trees for the Future
This nonprofit organization helps communities by planting trees in more than 60 countries. The Forest Garden Program is its
solution to ending hunger and poverty for small farmers. By working with farmers living in poverty, Trees for the Future provides training, seeds and nursery supplies to guide farmers towards a sustainable solution to hunger. By following the Forest Garden Program, families increase their income, eat healthier foods, gain security from market risks, pests and harsh
weather. They are also able to acquire feed for livestock and fuel from the wood. Overall, these farmers are not only creating a better life for themselves but for the environment as well.

Bloom and Give
Nearly 1.5 million girls in India are forced to get married before they turn 18.  Bloom and Give is a company that employs Indian women to create bags, scarves and homemade textiles. By employing these women, Bloom and Give is supporting girls’ education in India, which is one of the best ways to escape the cycle of “childhood marriage, pre-teen pregnancy
and domestic abuse,” according to the company’s website. Ten percent of every purchase goes to girls’ education programs in India. These programs fight gender inequality, re-integrate dropouts, build essential infrastructure and more.

– Andrea Rodriguez
Photo: Flickr

Illiteracy in Developing Nations
In poorer developing nations, 75 percent of children cannot read a single word of their native language. Illiteracy in developing nations stems from a lack of quality education, which can lead to familial economic instability, gender inequality and child mortality.

The Benefits of Addressing Illiteracy in Developing Nations

Addressing illiteracy in developing nations and increasing access to education can positively influence countries in many ways:

  • Economic Growth: Each year that a child remains in school increases their earning potential by 10 percent and raises their country’s GDP by 0.37 percent.
  • Gender Equality: Girls who attend school are less likely to be married before adulthood or be forced into marriage, fostering broader life choice and increased independence.
  • Child Mortality: It is projected that if all women were able to complete primary school, the under-five mortality rate could fall by 15 percent, preventing the deaths of almost one million children.

Equal Access to Education Can Equalize Opportunity

Pencils of Promise is a nonprofit organization whose focus is addressing illiteracy in the developing nations of Laos, Guatemala and Ghana. It achieves this goal by building schools, supporting local teachers and implementing health and hygiene programs to increase educational outcomes.

The organization started in 2008 with an initial deposit of $25, has since built 471 schools, supported 921 teachers and impacted 90,164 students as of June 2018. Varying educational indicators reveal rapid improvement as children ascend through grade school within the Pencils of Promise facilities.

By fifth and sixth grade, 54 percent of students are proficient in reading comprehension, which is used to assess independent readers. The data also shows amazing teacher commitment, at a rate of 87 percent compared with a global average of 70 percent.

Health is a huge factor in a child’s survival. Annually, clean drinking water could prevent the deaths of 860,000 children. Through Pencils of Promise’s WASH program, 97 percent of students in schools where the program has been implemented report clean drinking water.

The organization maintains close ties with the communities in which it works. Local community members contribute 20 percent of the resources and labor to every school built, and all of its country directors are from the country they are working in.

Pencils of Promise Partners with Companies to Broaden Its Impact

Pencils of Promise uses a for-profit business mentality to form lucrative partnerships with corporations such as Google, Dolce & Gabbana and Vogue. All administrative expenses are covered by corporate donations. All individual donations made online go solely to funding program services.

In the fall of 2017, Pencils of Promise partnered with the sweatshop-free clothing manufacturer American Apparel to create a capsule collection of t-shirts and hoodies emblazoned with the eye-catching phrase “Two hundred fifty million kids can’t read this”. The collection represents American Apparel’s commitment of $200,000 to fund the building of three schools in Guatemala, Laos and Ghana.

The mantra of Pencils of Promise is that everyone has promise. Addressing illiteracy in developing nations can provide millions of children with pathways out of poverty. Everyone gains from the progress that knowledge fosters.

Two hundred and fifty million kids can’t read this; where could we be if they could?

– Carolina Sherwood Bigelow
Photo: Flickr

Pencils of Promise
Pencils of Promise’s programs have impacted more than 300,000 lives. Its schools have served more than 31,240 students and its scholarship recipients are two times more likely to progress to secondary school than the regional average.

Founder Adam Braun was a college student backpacking across the globe when he asked a small boy begging on the streets of India what he wanted most in the world—the answer? A pencil. Braun reached in his backpack and handed him his pencil as ‘a wave of possibility washed over him.’ Over the next five years, Braun backpacked through more than 50 countries handing out thousands of pens and pencils across six continents.

These pencils led to powerful conversations with local parents and children across numerous cultures and languages. In October 2008, PoP was founded. What began with a mere $25 deposit has now built more than 200 schools, breaking ground on a new school every 90 hours.

“We’ve learned that education is a living, breathing entity that with the right nurturing, evolves into something spectacular,” Braun writes on the website.

“We’ve learned that every piece of its growth is a challenge and that each pencil, each dollar, each supporter is essential. Pencils of Promise is now a global movement of passionate individuals, many of which are the most dynamic and impactful leaders we have ever seen. They are committed to supporting a world with greater educational opportunity for all. Thousands have joined us, making contributions through acts both large and small.”

There are three main things that set PoP apart from other organizations. PoP is 100 percent for-purpose, 100 percent direct giving and has a 100 percent success rate. It is a unique organization  because it blends the head of a for-profit business with the heart of a humanitarian nonprofit— by covering operational costs through private donors, events and companies, 100 percent of every dollar donated online goes directly into its programs to educate more children. Furthermore, it does not just “build a school and move on.” PoP monitors and evaluates every project it undertakes— ensuring that every school it opens is fully operational and educating students daily.

On its website, one can donate various amounts of money, each detailing exactly how much of an impact it would make— $100 to keep children healthy, $250 to educate a child, $500 to train a teacher and $25,000 to build a school.

Pencils of Promise is true to its word in terms of a functioning education system. PoP’s students score three times higher on language literacy tests than their peers and the teachers enrolled in PoP’s teacher training program attend school with 97 percent frequency. Additionally, 85 percent of PoP’s teachers report student literacy increases, 88 percent of the teachers report student numeracy increases and an astonishing 90 percent of the teachers report increases in student engagement due to its programs.

PoP can also be credited with being extraordinarily innovative. PoP works to provide schools with smartphones, e-readers, long-range radio and creative materials in order to reach the most under-served communities in the countries where PoP works. One e-reader provides a student with 50 books in both English and the local language. Smartphones deliver interactive audio lessons to provide expanded access to learning and a mobile learning kit contains books, phonic games and creative educational tools for teachers.

This  organization not only trains teachers, but also teaches and trains students about WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene). Students miss 272 million school days due to preventable illness and the international WASH program has allowed PoP to train more than 5,040 students since 2009. Pop does this via a three-step approach: building bathrooms and hand washing stations, teaching students and tracking behavior change.

The Huffington Post reported that the program has brought hope to children around the world in the form of 10 million hours of education as of March 2014.

As Braun writes in his book, “Take the first small step, and chase the footprints you aspire to leave behind.” To take this first small step, visit

– Eastin Shipman

Sources: Pencils of Promise 1, Pencils of Promise 2, Pencils of Promise 3, Pencils of Promise 4, Huffington Post,
Photo: Pac For Kids