Do you own an iPhone? How about an iPad? Technology juggernaut Apple Inc. recently published an audit of the 451 plants, based in Asia, contracted as suppliers for Apple products. Of almost 1.5 million workers, Apple discovered 23 underage workers. Last year, the company discovered 74 underage workers. According to the report, workers could not exceed 60 hours per week.

Apple’s findings fall short in comparison to the growing number of underage workers in the child labor epidemic. What epidemic?

Child labor is the illegal use of hiring or forcing children to work in a business. Commonly, these working conditions are dangerous, hazardous, and inhumane. Not only are children working in dangerous work environments, they are not attending school. According to the University of Iowa, 75 million children did not attend school because of child labor.

According to the International Labor Organization, there are 215 million children between the ages of five and 17 working in illegal labor.

Here are some potential characteristics of child labor:

  • Ignores national and global human rights
  • Undermines child labor laws
  • Positions children in dangerous working environments
  • Involves some type of abuse toward the child

Child labor occurs mainly in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. However, child labor occurs across the globe. Here are a list of various industries where children are working:

  • Agriculture. Sixty percent of child labor occurs in commercial agriculture. Children working in this industry work long hours, are vulnerable to pesticides, and receive little pay
  • Manufacturing. Fourteen million children work in manufacturing
  • Mining. Children who work in this industry are vulnerable to physical harm
  • Child trafficking. Over six million children are forced into bondage, serfdom, or sexual exploitation. The New York Daily News recently published an article that exploiting Perusian children being sold into sex slavery

Primary Cause of Child Labor

The primary cause of child labor is poverty. As families struggle to acquire basic necessities such as food, shelter, and clothing, families become desperate to make ends meet. Here are some facts about the severity of global poverty provided by UNICEF:

  • 2.5 billion people lack access to improved sanitation
  • 1 billion children are deprived of one or more services essential to survival and development
  • 22 million infants are not protected from diseases by routine immunization
  • 4 million newborns worldwide are dying in the first month of life
  • 101 million children are not attending primary school

As these states show, global poverty is a serious epidemic.

Without access to basic needs and steady income, child labor has spread. Anecdotes about child labor are plentiful online. The common thread among these anecdotes is that fact that poor children are being forced to work long hours in dangerous environments, and they are not being paid. Poor safety conditions contribute to the illnesses, deaths, and injuries afflicted on innocent children.

Poor safety perpetuates the cycle of poverty and child labor. As one child dies or becomes terminally ill, another child is forced to work in illegal conditions.

– Leonard Wilson, Jr. 

Sources: Child Labor Public Education Project, NY Daily News, Reuters
Photo: The Hindu

The Borgen Project begrudgingly gave up a great International Affairs intern, Karen Lee, in January. After her internship, Karen moved to Peru to work at a nonprofit. She was a wonderful addition to our Seattle team and her enthusiasm is missed here everyday. Karen stays in touch, however, and she sent us these photos to show that The Borgen Project is still on her mind even as she travels the globe. It’s great to see The Borgen Project in Peru!




Whitney Garrett

The International Court of Justice (ICJ), the United Nation’s highest court, recently ruled in favor of Peru in a territorial dispute over contested maritime boundaries between Peru and Chile. 14,670 square miles of ocean worth around $200 million in marine resources were at stake in the ruling.

Peru first brought the case against Chile to the ICJ in 2008. This case marks the precipitation of uncertainty produced by the Santiago Declaration of 1952, wherein Ecuador, Chile and Peru agreed to mark their maritime boundaries at 200 miles west of their land borders. This agreement allowed Chile to have more territory than Peru, which juts to the northwest.

The ICJ was careful to give consideration to both parties. Chile argued that the Santiago Declaration did indeed constitute an agreement on land boundaries, which the Court accepted in part. The ICJ agreed with Chile that the Santiago Declaration constituted an agreement on territories, but only for the first 80 nautical miles. Beyond 80 nautical miles, the Court drew a new equidistant boundary in favor of Peru.

Peru won roughly 8,100 square miles in the dispute, while Chile kept its prime fishing grounds. Chile and Peru are currently tussling over a 3.7-hectare swathe of land that the ICJ declined to rule on. Long-standing territorial tensions between Peru and Chile are again simmering, arising to the forefront of national debate.

It is unlikely tensions between the two countries will reach a boiling point, however. Peru and Chile have close economic relations and are members of the Pacific Alliance free trade agreement, consisting also of Mexico and Colombia. Further, Peru is the fourth-largest recipient of Chilean investment, and Chile has $13.6 billion invested in Peru’s retail and service industries. Bilateral trade between the two countries totaled $3 billion last year.

– Jeff Meyer

Sources: Reuters, BBC, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist
Photo: The Nation

In September 2013, the Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting, with the Batey Relief Alliance, introduced a commitment to improving malnutrition and maternal health in Lima, Peru. The meeting brings together leaders from all around the world to help brainstorm, create, and implement innovative solutions for some of the world’s most concerning challenges.

According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 3 of deaths, of children ages five and under, is caused by malnutrition. Micronutrients, therefore, are essential for good health. Lacking proper amounts of micronutrients, specifically during pregnancy, can result in serious health issues.

Working with the Peruvian Ministry of Health, Caritas-Lima, and Vitamin Angels, the Batey Relief Alliance will train and send  150 Community Health Promoters to dispense multivitamins, Vitamin A, and anti-worm medicines on a quarterly basis for two years to schools, medical clinics, and community centers alike.

“This is a serious issue we are committed to addressing in Peru, where 34.8% of Peruvians live below the poverty line and maternal mortality death is 98 deaths per every 100,000 births, the majority of which are due to micronutrient deficiency,” said Ulrick Gillard, founder and CEO of the Batey Relief Alliance.

Batey Relief Alliance’s Health Promoters will also educate entire communities about health crises and further prevention techniques. Hopefully, in two years, the Alliance will improve the health and lives of about 2,000 children and 450 pregnant or nursing women.

– Sonia Aviv

Sources: Reuters, World News
Photo: World Bank

Millions of children around the world suffer from undernutrition. It is defined by UNICEF as a diet bereft of the calories and proteins necessary for growth and bodily maintenance, or the inability to utilize the nutrients in food due to an illness. This undernutrition is the cause of death of 5.6 million children in the developing world annually. And it is largely responsible for the stunted growth of millions of others.

Stunted growth, or low-height for age, can be attributed to a number of factors including infection, parasites, and, as mentioned, undernutrition. While these factors are not explicitly related, they are each correlated with lower incomes and poverty. Moreover, as a result of these conditions, particularly during the early years of a child’s life, he or she may not receive the nutrients necessary for proper development.

Stunting could begin as early as gestation in the womb, and has lifelong consequences as a “chronic restriction of a child’s growth.” Children with stunted growth have restricted brain development, preventing them from achieving their full potential in schooling and the workforce thereafter. In terms of disease, stunting puts children at a greater risk of dying from infection.

The countries in the world with the highest prevalence of stunted growth include Peru, India, Ethiopia, and Vietnam. These countries have risen to the challenge of preventing stunted growth in their children, like Peru with its “5 by 5 by 5” program. This specific program aimed to “reduce stunting in children under 5 by 5 percent in 5 years” by following simple steps like bettering women’s nutrition, encouraging breastfeeding, providing vitamins and nutrient-rich foods, and so on. The success has been widespread in Peru and elsewhere. By 2011, stunting in Ethiopia was reduced from 57% to 44% in children below the age of 5.

– Lina Saud 

Sources: Do Something, World Food Programme, UNICEF, Princeton Publications
Photo: Flikr


What does a word leader look like? Presidents, executives, members of Congress, and those with major publicity are probably the first people that come to mind.

Yet there are some leaders that don’t get this same attention. These leaders are in the background, changing communities one step at a time and building life long bonds to international cultures that can’t be diminished.

These leaders are the young students of the Amigos de Las Americas organization. Founded in 1965, Amigos stresses the importance of leaders and advocates out in the communities today. Developing leadership and cultural skills, Amigos sends high school and college students out into international communities, where developed skills are used to implement change in health and education practices.

The community service projects that Amigos have been involved in have a profound impact on the people of Latin America. In just 48 years of operation, Amigos has administered nearly 8 million immunizations, given 63,904 medical screenings and planted nearly 300,000 trees in numerous communities of Latin America. They have constructed health facilities, homes and community centers, as well as nearly 38,000 restrooms.

The influence this organization has on Latin America can’t be overstated, and students have had an overwhelming response. Over two dozen chapters have opened up in America, including a large chapter in Austin. Eighteen states in America host these chapters and are involved in the Amigos organization.

Amigos have already begun planning ahead to the summer projects of 2014. Some of the places where students will participate include Peru, Paraguay, Nicaragua, and Ecuador. The organization accepts donations on their website to help fund these trips and other projects. For more information on how to apply for one of these trips, visit

There are no limits to becoming a leader. Make a difference now.

– William Norris

Sources: Amigos de las Americas, Austin Amigos
Photo: Amigos de las Americas


If you’ve ever received a handmade sweater on Christmas from Grandma, you know how much octogenarians love to crochet.

Well, believe it or not, crocheting can be more than just entertainment for the elderly (or the crafty Pinterest fiend). Thanks to Krochet Kids International, now grandma’s favorite past time is improving the lives of women in northern Uganda and Peru by offering them hope and opportunities for self-empowerment.

That’s right, crocheting.

Krochet Kids International began as three high school friends, Kohl, Travis and Stewart, in Spokane, Washington, who enjoyed crocheting. In Kohl’s words “though it was not a normal hobby for high school guys, we reveled in the novelty of it”. A local paper nicknamed them the Krochet Kids and the name stuck.

In college Stewart spent a summer in Uganda where he encountered whole communities of people who’d been living in government camps for 20 years after the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) ravaged much of the northern half of the country.  Opportunities to make a living or improve their lives were nonexistent and most were trapped in dependence on the government camps and aid. After Stewarts returned, the three realized the difference they could make by teaching women in Uganda their beloved hobby. With this skill and the products they would create, they could lift themselves out of poverty and provide for their families.

To date, over 150 women in Uganda and Peru are Krochet Kids and are receiving ongoing support, education, and mentorship. Apiyo Kevin is one such woman. When asked what her favorite thing about crocheting is she replied, “crocheting has greatly helped me to forget my husband’s death. Besides, it has provided me with an employment opportunity that has drastically improved my income.”

Each of Krochet Kids’ colorful beanies and scarves has a small tag bearing the name, scrawled in blue ink, of the Ugandan woman who made it.

Fore these women, crocheting isn’t simply a hobby. It provides them with the self-confidence that comes with learning a new skill, an opportunity to heal, and most importantly, an income.

Because three high school friends decided they wanted to make a difference in the world around them, women in Uganda and Peru and consequently those who depend on them, are beginning to lead better, more fulfilled lives.

– Erin Ponsonby

Source: Krochet Kids
Photo: Granny Funk

In rural communities, appliances such as dishwashers, toilets, and washing machines are almost nonexistent. The physical demands of managing a family and maintaining a decent lifestyle requires individuals to walk miles for fresh water in cities such as Lima, Peru. Yet, these facts are not meant to sadden but inspire. Students at the Art Center College of Design put their skills and creativity to the test and accepted the challenge of transforming the lives of families in Lima through simple innovations such as the foot-powered washing machine.

While a fairly stereotypical image of rural dwellers is that they are dirty, Mario Orellana Gomez of Un Techo Para Mi Pais stresses that the poor are not exempt from the desire to live clean and sanitary lives. Washing clothes in the hillsides of Lima proves to be a much more difficult task than one could imagine. People must walk 3.5 miles and carry their water everyday. They must go up and down flights of stairs multiple times, and only then can they begin the back breaking process of washing their clothes. With clothes taking a long time to dry, mold and bacteria gather on the clothes, creating health risks such as tenosynovitis and asthma.

What needed to be done was a customer tested and approved washing machine that would alleviate all those problems. Students in the design matters programs at the Art Center founded and invented GiraDora, a human-powered washing and drying machine. After multiple prototypes and field tests with community members who would actually be the ones using the product, they came up with a functional way to alleviate the constant walking and physical stress of completing this every day task.

The machine uses a foot pedal that powers an inner drum that works similarly to the idea of a salad spinner. Two extremely useful additions is a seat cushion (which comes in multiple designs, all taking into account Peruvian art and culture) to allow the person washing clothes to relax or multitask and let their foot do all the work. There is also a drain plug so that the leftover water can be recycled or drained. The design prevents water leakage and bacteria from forming both on the clothes and on the parts. Built from lightweight materials, users can even take the ‘machine’ itself to the water containers in their village instead of carrying water long distances.

It seems these sorts of innovations are endless, and that they should be. Made from simple materials, products such as the GiraDora create a bigger impact than meets the eye. They save water which not only saves families money but also allows them to use the water for other purposes. It frees up time which in turn lets them attend to other duties or even provide a much needed period to relax.

The cost of the set is $40 and the reason why such a simple, small sum is important is because it doesn’t leave room for questioning. For donors looking for a quick and easy, yet effective way to help those in need, equating and illustrating that $40 provides one machine is the best way to raise the funds.

Social entrepreneurs thus, are truly on the rise. While many are students or come from small college programs, the idea that change does not have to come from a political movement or a legislative bill is such an important thing to remember. As Gomez puts it in the documentary Hands in the Midst, “There’s no possibility that change can come from the top to the bottom…real human change comes from the bottom to the top”.

– Deena Dulgerian
Source: Co.EXIST
Photo: BeHance

Fog Catchers Project at U of WWhile morning dew may settle and dry within a couple of hours, the persistence of fog especially in coastal areas creates a valuable resource for irrigation. Students at the University of Washington have been producing mist and testing various materials to create a long-lasting and efficient fog catching system over the past year.

Fog catching is in no way a brainchild of the 21st century. Inhabitants of the Canary Islands 2,000 years ago used trees to capture water droplets. These days, however, with much of the forests having been cut down in countries such as Peru, man-made fog catchers are being used to irrigate land and provide water to villagers.

How fog catchers work is actually quite simple. A mesh plastic net is held up by poles and while the layers of fog move through the nets, water droplets settle and eventually drip down into a bucket. More complex systems such as one in the highlands of Guatemala use piping and divert the water that’s collected, about 2,000 gallons a day, to supply a village of 200 people with a reliable flow of water.

Under the supervision of Susan Bolton, an ecologist and civil engineer at UW, graduate students use their $15,000 in prize grant money from the EPA’s People, Prosperity, and the Planet program to find what materials will catch more droplets while lowering the cost and maintenance of the nets. Robert Schemenauer, an atmospheric physicist from British Columbia who founded the nonprofit FogQuest and has been a part of the creation of most of the fog catching systems around the world, has also been active in the research program. He maintains a strict reminder to the students and professors that they need to think of their audience on the smallest scale. Fog collectors cannot provide enough water for large towns or cities so they should not be looked as replacements for municipal water facilities. The material must be cheap enough but durable to last in conditions where they will be used.

Currently, the UW team is experimenting with a fibrous plastic mat, much like the ones that are used to cover turf. They are also changing up the shapes of the nets themselves; instead of using rectangles, making it more of a triangular shape to allow the water droplets to trickle down better.

The students make it clear that the natural fog will not be diverted from an original source. It’s a fog that usually goes unharnessed but can help turn around the agriculture in the community they hope to work within Lomas de Zapallal near Lima, Peru.

Next month, the UW team will present their results along with the other winners of the EPA’s $15,000 grant at the National Sustainable Design Expo in Washington, D.C. They then have a chance to win a $90,000 grant to help continue to initiate sustainable programs that will help solve environmental problems, big or small. The grant money will also help them actually execute their program in Lomas de Zapallal.

– Deena Dulgerian

Source:Seattle Times