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Fighting Poverty
The United Nations Development Programme has recently collaborated with the top Turkish soccer club, Galatasaray Sports Club, to help promote the Sustainable Development Goals, the world’s leading poverty eradication initiative.

After winning the UEFA Cup and UEFA Super Cup in 2000, the Turkish soccer club has kept worldwide support for its athletic ventures. With stars like Wesley Sneijder representing the team, fans of international competitions have taken their enthusiasm to the club scene. Galatasaray is able to add on an impressive domestic following with over 20 local league cup wins, and in addition, has established bases in Turkey’s biggest city, Istanbul.

Four of the iconic Galatasaray players, “captain Selçuk İnan of Turkey, goalkeeper Fernando Muslera of Uruguay, Aurélien Chedjou of Cameroon, and the Netherlands’ Wesley Sneijder,” starred in a video promoting the new partnership between the football club and the UNDP. In the video, the players stress the idea of “leave no one behind” in a world where many are forgotten in poverty.

Outside of the film room, the club continues to make its mark. Along with the UNDP, “Galatasaray will raise funds for a diversity of programmes to tackle poverty, inequalities and exclusion across the world,” according to a UNDP article.  Even so, this isn’t the first Turkish soccer club that has set humanitarian goals. In 2014 and 2015, the organization assisted with the relief of flooded communities and victims of mining disasters.

Soccer unites people despite language, geographic and political barriers. The World Cup is the single most watched sporting event in the world, with over 700 million viewers watching the 2010 final. Millions of children, and even adults, admire the stars that play on their favorite teams. It’s only natural that these spotlighted individuals should take the lead in the fight against global poverty.

France’s Zinedine Zidane and Brazil’s Ronaldo are two iconic examples of soccer stars joining the fight against poverty. Last year the duo, along with many other stars such as van de Sar and Seedorf, put together the 12th annual Match Against Poverty, in conjunction with the UNDP and EUFA, the European soccer authority. The money from the tickets which cost “from €8 to €12” went to “aid specific projects in different countries dealing with difficult challenges.”

With power and wealth on the line, soccer’s role models quickly become the hopes and dreams of children all around the world. Youth most affected by poverty in countries with glorified soccer stars use the potential for glory and riches as motivation to conquer their own situations. Sometimes, the stories of players they watch are not unlike their own.

In Brazil, Adriano and Ronaldo are just two of those kids that have climbed out of poverty with their skills on the ball. A talent scout for Flamengo, a local professional club, says, “For Brazilian kids growing up in some of the world’s roughest neighborhoods, soccer is a ray of hope amid violence and poverty.” Around 800 Brazilian kids are able to escape the country and poverty with professional soccer careers, which is not many when the population size is considered.

Professional soccer careers are not the logical solution to poverty, but the sport is promoting poverty’s eradication in ways like Galatasaray’s public service announcement, which is in association with the Sustainable Development Goals. Soccer’s far-reaching scope and enthusiastic following can increase awareness and support for the goals of ending poverty.

Jacob Hess

Photo: Flickr

a Highly Successful AdvocateA successful advocate stirs up support for policies, legislation and public causes through civil education, awareness campaigns and lobbying with key decision-makers. Here are five things that can make any advocacy campaign more effective.

5 Habits of a Highly Successful Advocate

  1. Understanding Your Cause: A highly successful advocate understands the ins and outs of their cause. In order to speak passionately and authoritatively on an issue for which you are advocating, you must ensure that you read up on it, interact with people who understand and have experienced it and keep abreast of current affairs related to it. Advocacy is a full-time job and whenever you are interacting with other people or legislators, you have an opportunity to tell them about your campaign, so it really helps if you can converse comfortably about it.
  2. Creating Public Awareness: A cause that people know nothing about is doomed to fail. A highly successful advocate must, therefore, mount vigorous awareness campaigns around their cause. In this day and age of information proliferation through the Internet, social media has become one of the best ways to reach out to more people instantaneously. Creating online petitions and being very active on social media sites is a great way for an advocate to engage followers. Writing letters to editors of different newspapers is another means of putting your cause in the limelight. It is also important to blog and consistently publish articles around issues or legislation you are supporting. A successful advocate will also ensure that they network with people who are supporters of the cause.
  3. Consistently Calling and Emailing Congressional Leaders: Did you know that every time you call or email your congressional leaders in support of a piece of legislation, it is recorded and viewed by your elected official every week? Most legislators want to know as many of their constituents’ issues as possible; therefore, to be a successful advocate, you must set aside time each week to consistently call and email legislators to tell them about the cause you support.
  4. Meeting Elected Officials: According to the American Planning Association, meeting in person with elected leaders or their legislative staff is one of the most effective means of political advocacy. When going for lobbying meetings, it is important that you are well prepared in advance by knowing the specific problem you want to tackle and requesting a specific action or solution from the representative that you are meeting. You should also demonstrate that the issue you are presenting has an organized group of supporters. After the visit, ensure that you follow up by sending a thank-you note and tracking how the legislator responds to the issue.
  5. Fundraising: A highly successful advocate ensures that they are not strapped for cash when running their campaigns. It is important, therefore, to raise the capital that will allow you to regularly meet elected officials and key decision-makers, make phone calls and generally support overhead costs required to run your advocacy campaign.

– June Samo

Sources: American Planning Association, Government and Community Relations, Salsa, TASCO, The Advocacy Project, WFP
Photo: Flickr

raise_awareness
When confronted with the horrific suffering and abuse that many of the world’s poor endure on a daily basis, one is likely to feel the urge to “do something.” For those of us who are not development professionals, one of the main options for “doing something” tends to be along the lines of advocacy and raising awareness – making sure our sphere of influence is aware of a specific injustice in the world. But does raising awareness matter, and does it really make a difference for the poor?

Patty Stonesifer, former President and CEO and current senior adviser for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, thinks so. Stonesifer defines advocacy as, “efforts to bring about change through public awareness and activism and/or changes to public policy, public practice, or the law.” During her time as a top executive for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, she saw that a shortage in the availability of game-changing solutions for disease and broken educational systems was not the problem. The problem was that these resources were not being purchased and delivered by donors and governments.

Why? A lack of advocacy. The people these services would benefit – the very young or very old or very sick – did not have the ability to help or advocate for themselves. The people most desperate for healthcare or education did not have the political influence to determine the services they would receive.

Sandy Stonesifer, an advocate for issues related to adolescent girls’ health, states that while not all advocacy organizations are effective, history has proven the massive effects that a group of committed advocates can have on policy – the NAACP, March of Dimes and the National Organization for Women, to name a few. She suggests doing research to determine the organizational capacity and cost effectiveness of individual advocacy organizations to make an informed decision about which organizations to support.

Advocacy certainly accomplishes more than just “making noise.” Advocacy changes government agendas and can raise funds for on-the-ground NGOs to carry out their humanitarian efforts. Addressing issues only by funding direct services overlooks the importance of growing a movement – a group of supporters that will provide financial resources and lobbying efforts, thereby carrying the movement beyond its start-up momentum.

While no injustice will be eliminated simply by raising awareness that it exists, people must be aware in order to take the first step of action.

– Madisson Barnett

Sources: All for One, AECF, Abolishion
Photo: Project Theureka