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Child Poverty in Lebanon
Children living in Lebanon have been experiencing the full impact of the weakened economy in the country. Due to the Beirut explosion and the collapse of the Lebanese pound, child poverty has been on the rise in Lebanon. Child’s education, health and protection have become difficult to acquire.

The Deterioration of the Economy

Lebanon has struggled with its economy for a while due to its reliance on foreign imports and the limited exports coming from its country. As of 2021, Lebanon has failed to see economic growth, but the government is continuing to borrow money from other countries.

In addition, Lebanon’s government consists of 18 politicians of different religious denominations, such as Christian and Muslim. Because of this, Lebanon is susceptible to interference from other countries. As a result, Lebanon has become “one of the world’s largest debt burdens as a result of years of inefficiency, waste and corruption,” according to Reuters.

Moreover, in October 2019, the Lebanese pound began to lose its value due to the shortage of foreign currency in their commercial banks. This caused high-interest rates, leading to the emergence of a black market. Because there is an absence of taxes on the transactions and the government is not aware of the activity happening in the black market, this harms the economy.

While Lebanon was struggling economically, an explosion in Beirut worsened its situation. For instance, on August 4, 2020, a large amount of ammonium nitrate, a chemical used in agricultural fertilizers and bombs, exploded throughout the city of Beirut. Due to this, the air filled with dust, causing concern about the toxins people were consuming in the air.

Unfortunately, the explosion killed 140, wounded 5,000 and displaced 300,000. Of those 300,000, 100,000 of them were children, as UNICEF reported.

About Child Poverty in Lebanon

Due to the deterioration of the economy, Lebanon’s poverty rate has doubled from 42% to 82% between 2019 to 2021. As a result, many families cannot afford basic necessities for their children because of inflation, thus increasing child poverty in Lebanon. These families face shortages of food, water and electricity in their homes. Under these circumstances, many children have no choice but to skip meals, according to the OWP.

In addition, “34% of children were not able to receive necessary primary health care,” the OWP reported. In fact, many families need to access water through private providers at a cost because water from public works is insufficient to drink.

Child poverty in Lebanon leads to children living in conditions where they cannot grow and thrive. As economic inequality increases, children become susceptible to child marriage, trafficking and sexual exploitation.

Education in Lebanon

Additionally, many children do not have the option to attend school anymore because of the Beirut explosion. Unfortunately, the explosion damaged 163 schools, leaving children struggling to obtain an education through other means.

Due to the lack of technology and internet connectivity, many children cannot participate in remote learning activities. As families endure the hardships brought upon by the explosion, families are resorting to  “sending their children to work in often dangerous and hazardous conditions, marrying off their daughters or selling their belongings,” said UNICEF’s representative in Lebanon, Yukie Mokuo.

To avoid child marriages and selling their belongings, children need to work. Many of them work in agriculture, metalworking or factories under inhumane conditions. Addressing child poverty in Lebanon, the government signed the ILO’s Convention on Child Labor, but it failed to become a law.

Save the Children

Lebanese children are receiving help from various organizations, such as Save the Children. Save the Children believes that children are the most vulnerable when disaster strikes, so it created an organization that focused on protecting them and giving them a chance at a new beginning.

Specifically, it is asking for donations to achieve its goals to improve the lives of Lebanese children. Some of the organization’s goals for child poverty in Lebanon are to increase the quality of education, restore schools and install water, sanitation and hygiene resources for the children to access.

Lastly, it hopes to protect Lebanese children from “psychological stress, neglect, violence, and abuse.” By doing this, Save the Children hopes to show the Lebanese children that they have the right to obtain these basic needs for a better future.

UNICEF

UNICEF has also been aiding children in Lebanon by providing Lebanese families with children with cash grants in the form of U.S. dollars, aiming to help 70,000 children in need. This is an effort to remove children from working and avoid skipping meals.

To add, UNICEF “is also providing mental health support and psychological first aid to children who are engaged in child labor, those who have experienced or are at risk of violence,” as stated on its website.

As a result, the children will have the ability to think for themselves and gain confidence and self-esteem. Similar to Save the Children, UNICEF has spent $6.9 million to help repair Lebanon’s water systems, aiding children’s health. The organization is continuing to reach more vulnerable children and their families, offering them support in any way it can.

With the increasing poverty rate in Lebanon, living conditions are becoming unbearable for many Lebanese children. Fortunately, Save the Children and UNICEF are assisting Lebanon, providing education measures, health services and protection for Lebanese children.

– Kayla De Alba
Photo: Flickr

Arab Spring
The term “Arab Spring” characterized a series of upheavals across the Middle East and North African regions (MENA) in which a surge of citizens defied their authoritarian governments. It all started in Tunisia in 2010 when a man set himself on fire in a demonstration against police corruption. Sudan joined the anti-oppression movement in an effort to eradicate oppression and poverty in Sudan soon after. Now, a decade and a new government later, the country finds itself in an ideal position to begin seriously addressing poverty in Sudan.

A Tragic History

For many years, the Sudanese have suffered the brutal dictatorship of an authoritarian regime. In 2003, Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) took up arms against their government in Darfur. These groups launched attacks against government facilities and army facilities in an attempt to obtain more financial and democratic power for the citizens. The subsequent conflict became known as the Darfur Genocide.

Both Sudan’s government, headed by President Omar al-Bashir, and the movements that opposed it were non-Arab. This conflict led to the deaths of around 15,000 people and the uprooting of millions of citizens. Bashir created a country dichotomized into Arabs and Africans, as opposed to a country that acted as a home for all Sudanese people. These conditions laid the foundation for the Bashir administration’s oppression of the Sudanese people. In 2011, the stage was set for the Arab Spring in Sudan. As a result of these protests, violence erupted. Throughout, Bashir retained his presidency.

Economic Challenges

Poverty in Sudan and socioeconomic woes increased following July 2011, when South Sudan gained independence from Sudan after Africa’s longest-running civil war. Considering most oil fields prospered in the south of the country, the most significant price Sudan paid was the loss of oil profits. As a result, Sudan’s inflation went rampant, provoking major upset among the Sudanese. The younger generations found it exceptionally challenging to find a job. Instead of addressing these issues, Sudan used most of its resources for military purposes. Additionally, a drought worsened Sudan’s already restrictive agricultural policies.

The failure of the industrial labor market caused unemployment and poverty to spread. The absence of economic opportunity prompted Bashir to eradicate nearly all civil society organizations. As a result, human rights and labor units shut down. Conjointly, due to Bashir’s Islamic leadership, women experienced extreme restraints. Indeed, Sudanese people experienced their basic rights stripped from them and those they loved, leaving them with exceptionally limited freedom.

Poverty in Sudan prevailed when bread, a basic food, became unaffordable. Violence and economic struggles contributed greatly to the oppression of the Sudanese people. However, the loss of affordable access to the most basic aspect of life, food, triggered the people to rise up and demand change.

New National Solidarity

One catalyst driving the protests was the desegregation of the different factions of Sudan. New national solidarity arose in recent years with the hope of ending Bashir’s rule. It was no longer Arabs verse the Africans. One example illustrating this was the chants throughout the northern and southern parts of Sudan beginning in late 2018. Multi-ethnic protestors chanted “we are all Darfur” while Darfur’s protestors chanted “we are all Khartoum,” demonstrating solidarity across the different religions and ethnicities of Sudan.

As the protests gained momentum, many more joined in hopes of replacing the regime with a government that could recover some of the economic loss. Public opposition groups played a key role in even the poorest communities. This ensured that everyone’s voices were on display despite their economic status. Women also took to the streets to protest the mistreatment they had experienced over the years, proving that all segments of Sudanese society engaged and committed themselves to the revolution.

A Successful Revolution

Sudanese citizens again requested Bashir to resign, but he refused. The government reacted violently, murdering a number of protestors. This only served to further outrage and inspire demonstrators around the country. Finally, the opposition assembled peacefully outside Sudan’s military headquarters in Khartoum, the capital, demanding Bashir’s resignation.

Critically, the revolution attained military assistance despite the military being a fundamental pillar of Bashir’s rule. In the face of the massive scale of the uprisings, the military began wavering in its support of Bashir. Leaders eventually determined that self-preservation was the only choice, and the military deposed the dictator.

Sudan Today

Despite the success in overthrowing Bashir, poverty in Sudan remains a major issue. Some 36% of the population lives below the poverty line. Poverty in Sudan exacerbates other issues, resulting in approximately 1 million children experiencing global acute malnutrition.

Due to its perseverance, Sudan is experiencing rebuilding. Many organizations are addressing poverty in Sudan. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is assisting in the establishment of early childcare programs in Darfur, Sudan. Additionally, the organization is going through an appeal process to raise $211 million to assist in humanitarian efforts. Some of the targeted recipients include 7.4 million children and 2.5 million internally displaced persons. Another organization committed to aiding the next generation of Sudan is Save the Children. In 2020, it helped 374,000 children by addressing poverty in Sudan through nourishment, education, protection and crisis aid. Doctors Without Borders also aims to improve the severely-lacking health care in Sudan.

A Brighter Future

The Sudanese have always fought for human rights and against tyranny. They triumphed due to their tenacity, finally ending a dictatorship that lasted for 30 years. Now, with support from its international allies, Sudan is undeniably on its road to alleviating the effects of poverty.

– Tiffany Lewallyn
Photo: Flickr

Child Soldiers in Syria
In June 2021, the United Nations released its yearly 2020 report on children in armed conflict, confirming the ongoing recruitment of children by various Syrian militant groups. These groups include the Syrian National Army, the Syrian Democratic Forces, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham and other Syrian armed opposition groups. By June 2021, militant groups recruited almost 840 children to work as child soldiers in Syria, among other roles, meaning child soldier numbers will likely increase by the end of the year.

Child Soldiers in Syria

With conflict raging since 2011, these groups turn to child populations to manage their shortage of combatants. By exploiting children in impoverished communities, groups use adults and other child victims to coerce and manipulate children into joining the armed forces. The child soldiers in Syria become spies, combatants and checkpoint guards, among other roles, enduring sexual exploitation and harsh military punishments. By using children as combatants, these groups continue to violate international laws with few repercussions.

Syrian Democratic Forces

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has a long history as a critical perpetrator of recruiting child soldiers in Syria. In 2019, the SDF signed a United Nations Action Plan intending to prevent the use of child soldiers, making it appear as though the SDF was attempting to adhere to international law. Under this plan, anyone younger than the age of 18 would be unable to join the SDF.

However, the Syrian Justice and Accountability Center reported that the SDF continues to recruit young boys and girls, some as young as age 11. Additionally, a U.N. report in April 2021 explains that the SDF and its branches are responsible for about 35% of confirmed child recruitments in Northern Syria.

Due to the United Nations Action Plan and international pressure, the SDF is increasingly reuniting recruited children with their families, but only after those specific families put constant pressure on the SDF. Since the creation of the SDF’s Child Protection Office, families have complained about the issue of child soldier recruitment 150 times. However, as of March 2021, the SDF has only demobilized 50 children. In December 2020, the SDF held a press conference, reuniting 16-year-old S. Jam Harran and 15-year-old G. Muhyiddin with their families.

Law No. 21 – Child Rights Law

On Aug. 15, 2021, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad presented Law No. 21 to regulate child rights and welfare throughout the country. The law prohibits the practice of trafficking children, including the use of child soldiers in Syria. The government will take action in response to reports of such practices but does not mention specifics in this regard. While this legislation seems like a significant step in the right direction, many groups, such as the Syrian Accountability and Justice Center, are skeptical about the law’s true ability to end the militant groups’ use of child soldiers. This is due to the existence of a vast number of groups that recruit children, including the Syrian government.

Addressing the Issue of Child Soldiers

Despite the skeptics, the new Syrian legislation on child rights and welfare is a promising step for children throughout the country. Enforcing these new laws nationally will take time, but various groups are working to alleviate the current child soldier situation until then.

UNICEF is responsible for aiding more than 8,700 children following their release from armed forces globally through counseling, education, medical services and safe living arrangements. These rehabilitation and poverty-fighting efforts allow for proper healing from trauma, allowing these children to become functioning members of society. Additionally, UNICEF specifically aids Syrian children, thus impacting communities directly by assisting in medical care, education and improving living situations.

In reducing the number of child soldiers in Syria, the investment by wealthy nations through humanitarian aid may be the most powerful tool as those countries could positively influence local dynamics by helping to lift populations out of extreme poverty. Armed groups have a more difficult time recruiting educated children from stable environments. Nonprofits like Save the Children work to aid impoverished child populations. Save the Children establishes programs and services for families to develop economic stability, preventing child exploitation by increasing the standard of living.

Because children are one of the most at-risk populations, militant groups often use them to sustain extreme military operations through indoctrination and community approval. With emerging Syrian legislation and organizations tackling the issue of child soldiers in Syria, the future of Syrian child welfare could be moving in a positive direction. These efforts combined with international advocacy and education on the issue of child use by armed forces could significantly change the lives of children in Syria.

– Hannah Eliason
Photo: Unsplash

Human Trafficking in Mali
Mali is a country where human trafficking is widespread, according to the U.S. State Department. This suggests that the government of the western African country is failing to achieve the bare minimum for abolishing the practice. Instead, Mali has increased some of its prevention efforts — at least since 2017. Mali is not overlooking trafficking, according to many observers. In fact, the government is attempting to stop human trafficking in Mali.

The Situation in Mali

Despite its ranking, the Malian government is making strides to remedy its human trafficking conundrum. These initiatives include educating judges, prosecutors and law enforcement officers on human trafficking, as well as issuing a directive prohibiting minors from entering military installations.

Further actions aimed at combating human trafficking include government collaboration with international groups such as the Fodé and Yeguine Network for Action, and the Ministry of Women, Children and Families. In addition, the government has concentrated efforts amending an old anti-trafficking law as recently as 2019.

Mali’s justice minister has issued an order requiring judicial officials to give priority to cases brought under the original statute. Due to the absence of an integrated process to gather anti-trafficking statistics, law enforcement material previously was fragmentary and thereby challenging to access. The 2019 amendment sought to establish a unified strategy for data collection.

Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world, with more than 42% of its total population living below the poverty line, according to the World Bank. The coronavirus pandemic didn’t help, as a recession dropped Mali’s gross domestic product by nearly 2%. Additionally, nearly seven in 10 adults in Mali cannot read or write, indicating a scarcity of education.

The Correlation Between Malian Poverty and Human Trafficking

Mali has been beset by instability and violence since a 2012 military coup d’état and the capture of the northern territory. The country remains in a state of desperation due to its economic and social crises. The financial insecurity has made it simple — as many observers viewed — to fall victim to human trafficking practices.

Mali falls short of meeting the minimal benchmarks for the abolition of human trafficking. As a result, human traffickers can continue to exploit both internal and international victims. Many of these migrants are fleeing crisis zones in Mali, Nigeria and Senegal.

Mali is a supplier, route and destination country for international trafficking, according to the State Department. Lured to Mali with assurances of high-paying jobs, organizations, which include violent fundamentalists like Al-Qaeda “affiliates” abduct many of them. Job seekers also labor to “pay off” fictitious debts that the organizations that invited them to the country in the first place tell them they owe.

Why Mali?

Despite its poverty, Mali is rich in gold and oil. Yet, to benefit from those resources, Mali needs miners. This attracts refugees, women and children, who traffickers could ultimately coerce. Juvenile prostitution and child sex trafficking are common at mining sites. In fact, more than 12% of sex workers at these locations are as young as 15 and as old as 19, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency.

A disproportionate number of males work in certain mines, exposing them to the most heinous types of child labor, including physical, sexual and psychological abuse. “Children are being forced to fight by armed groups, trafficked, raped, sold, forced into sexual or domestic servitude or married off,” Gillian Triggs, the Refugee Agency’s assistant high commissioner for protection, told Reuters in December 2020.

Assistance to Mali

There are many human trafficking solutions, yet they are difficult to implement. Global attention and vigorous effort to alleviate Mali’s exploited and trafficked workers dilemma remain in initial phases. While the U.N., the State Department and a number of non-governmental organizations said they are aware of trafficking issues in Mali, the magnitude and precise volume of trafficking and coerced laborers continue to remain unclear.

To help with these issues, the Roman Catholic Church-affiliated Caritas Mali has assembled an international team to build an initiative alongside the International Catholic Migration Commission,  providing underprivileged individuals and children with alternative income and skill development opportunities.

Mali’s education system is deficient, and this new initiative may make fewer people desire to work in deplorable conditions. Many believe that human trafficking thrives on the instability that poverty creates. Thus, eliminating poverty could then, in turn, mitigate trafficking problems.

Many groups are attempting to assist those in poverty in Mali including Action Against Hunger. To date, it has helped more than 400,000 people gain access to nutrition and health programs, food security programs and sanitation programs. Another organization providing aid is the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Office of Food for Peace, which collaborates with the U.N. World Food Program to deliver financial assistance and meals to families that dislocation, violence, environmental catastrophes and other crises have impacted.

Save the Children is another organization helping nearly 1.5 million Malian children in 2020 by giving food and protection. The organization says it effectively raised 232,000 children out of poverty.

The work of Save the Children, Action Against Hunger and the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Office of Food for Peace are helping reduce the symptoms of poverty such as food insecurity and poor sanitation. These efforts should subsequently reduce people’s vulnerability and eliminate human trafficking in Mali.

– Tiffany Lewallyn
Photo: Flickr

Cabo Delgado crisis
Mozambique, a southern nation located in East Africa, is one of the poorest nations in the world. Cabo Delgado is its northernmost province and is rich in natural gas and rubies.  A mix of political tensions, Islamist militancy and inequality have provided fertile ground for Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado crisis

Background of the Crisis

Violence erupted in Cabo Delgado in 2015 and continues today as clashes between the militant group al-Shabab and state security forces.  Members of al-Shabab feel that the state does not provide for those in Cabo Delgado who do not belong to the elite. To date, almost 3000 people have died and hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced. In particular, Mozambican children are suffering heavily from physical and mental challenges.

Physical Challenges to Children: Displacement

The Cabo Delgado crisis has displaced over 336,000 children from their homes. Children flee from their homes on short notice to escape violence. They often travel long distances, sustaining injuries as a result of their journeys. Within the span of one month from June to July 2021, the number of children fleeing alone from Cabo Delgado increased by 40%.

Physical Challenges to Children: Hunger and Violence

Children impacted by the Cabo Delgado crisis also suffer from starvation. A UNICEF SMART survey analysis indicates that 33,000 children in Cabo Delgado are severely malnourished. Still, this number does not even take into account the children who have fled the region.

Some children are even subject to kidnappings and extreme violence. In the span of 13 months, ending in August 2021, over 50 children, mostly girls, were kidnapped. Additionally, there have been reports that children as young as 11 were beheaded.

Mental Challenges to Children: Trauma and Education

In addition to physical challenges, children displaced by the Cabo Delgado crisis also suffer from severe mental distress and trauma. This is often a result of children witnessing horrifying scenes including the murder of their own parents.

The Cabo Delgado crisis also challenges children’s access to education. Cabo Delgado has one of the highest rates of illiteracy in Mozambique. Thus far, the conflict has destroyed 221 schools, jeopardizing children’s access to essential learning.

Helping the Children of Mozambique

The Mozambican government has taken steps to try and improve life in provinces impacted by the Cabo Delgado crisis. In March 2020, the government created the Northern Integrated Development Agency to provide humanitarian aid and support economic growth and youth employment in Cabo Delgado and other provinces impacted by the crisis.

The international community has tried to help diffuse the Cabo Delgado crisis by strengthening the government. In April 2021, the World Bank agreed to provide $100 million to the government of Mozambique to support displaced civilians with basic infrastructure and job creation.

Save the Children

Save the Children, the international humanitarian organization, is helping.  It recently worked to reunite 63 Cabo Delgado children with their parents and caregivers. The organization provides foster homes and other forms of temporary accommodation for displaced children.  It also provides mental health and psychosocial support service. In addition, Save the Children works with the Mozambican government and other partners to combat malnutrition and provide improved health programs for children. Thus far, the organization has provided support to more than 25,000 children in times of crisis and vital nourishment to almost 15,000 children.

The Mozambique government, global financial leaders including the World Bank, and international humanitarian organizations including Save the Children are making strides to improve life in Cabo Delgado. While much work still remains, these groups are alleviating the suffering of children who are caught up in the Cabo Delgado crisis.

– Savannah Algu
Photo: Flickr

Poverty and International Adoption in Ethiopia: 8 Questions Answered
Due to decades of poverty and other factors, Ethiopia has one of the largest orphan populations in the world. In the past decade, Ethiopia has become one of the most common countries from which U.S. citizens can adopt children. However, Ethiopia’s ban on international adoption in 2018 has affected thousands of Ethiopian children living in poverty. International adoption in Ethiopia is an extremely complex process. Netsanet Waal, an international adoptee, explained to The Borgen Project that after she lost both her parents to AIDS, she and her little sister Mekdelawit lived in an orphanage in Ethiopia. Their adoptive parents, Rhonda and Tracy Waal, adopted Netsanet and Mekdelawit in 2007. Here are eight questions and answers about international adoption.

8 Questions and Answers About International Adoption

  1. How did international adoption become so common in the United States? As Europe’s refugees fled to the United States after World War II due to post-war developments, the Displaced Persons Act of 1948 helped introduce international adoption and migration into Western culture. During the 1950s and 1960s, the number of international adoptions surged, notably among families compelled to adopt for religious reasons. Media coverage of global crises in impoverished countries increased in the 1980s. As a result, adoption became a more promoted practice in American culture and society.
  2. What are the benefits of international adoption? Every child deserves to have a family and international adoption provides a way for children to feel loved, safe and supported. When middle-class and upper-class families adopt children from impoverished countries, a child’s quality of life typically increases. Even more, international adoption improves foreign relations by facilitating dialogue between countries. International adoption also has a meaningful impact on those who come in contact with adoptees. In small towns with little diversity, adoptees can reshape many U.S. citizens’ perspectives on different cultures. 
  3. What are the negatives of international adoption? The cost of international adoption is extremely high. According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, international adoption can cost between $20,000 and $50,000. The high price of international adoption makes it inaccessible to many families, suggesting that many capable families cannot adopt for financial reasons. Additionally, as immigrants, children adopted from other countries often enter communities that do not resemble their own. Therefore, adoptees can struggle with discovering their identity and personhood until later on in their lives, if they ever do. In an interview with The Borgen Project, Waal spoke about how her upbringing in the small rural town of Mount Vernon, Ohio affected the way she perceived herself as a black woman. Waal explained that she did not have any Ethiopian influences around her, and she struggled to connect with the culture of her home country because she grew up in a predominantly white town.
  4. How did Ethiopia become a country known for orphan adoption? Ethiopia’s food shortage from 1983-85 caused an estimated 1 million deaths and forced millions more into extreme poverty. The AIDS epidemic devastated Ethiopia as well. AIDS started spreading in Ethiopia in 1984; about 12% of women and 8% of men in Ethiopia were HIV positive by 2000. Children and youth also became more likely to contract HIV during the early 2000s through mother-to-child transmission. When BBC reporter Michael Buerk traveled with World Vision in 1984 and reported on famine and poverty in Ethiopia, it inspired Americans to aid the country. Waal explained how her adoptive parents had witnessed the famine on television as children. The parents felt that God was calling them to adopt later in 2007. At the time, Ethiopia was the fourth poorest country in the world. The Waal family wished to help by adopting two of the 4.9 million orphans in Africa at the time, and they were not the only family considering such a decision.
  5. How does poverty affect Ethiopian children today? Ethiopia had a 24% poverty rate in 2016, which means that thousands of kids grow up without access to education and resources. Less than 20% of children living in poverty can finish elementary school, while less than 25% have received basic vaccinations.
  6. Why did the Ethiopian government ban international adoption recently? The Ethiopian government banned international adoption in Ethiopia in 2018. Ethiopian officials pursued this course of action as they believed it would protect orphans; officials were worried about the psychological problems and physical abuse that adoptees could suffer. When asked about the benefits of international adoption, orphanage administrator Abebayehu Fikad explained, “Even if we are poor, it’s better to be with our society,” in an interview with NPR.
  7. How did the ban of international adoption in Ethiopia affect orphaned children? Ethiopia continues to face an orphan crisis. Today, 800,000 of Ethiopia’s 4.5 million orphans have lost their parents to AIDs, and there are specific orphanages aiding children in such situations. Many of the children will likely live in orphanages until they age out of the system.
  8. Who is aiding Ethiopian orphans? NGOs including Save The Children are advocating for Ethiopian orphans and children. Save the Children has touched millions of lives through its work on the ground and its child sponsorship program. Save The Children has also assisted more than 1 million parents in helping their children and provided protection for more than 800,00 children experiencing crises. In addition, Save the Children has established programs to enhance education, literacy and career-building skills for unprivileged children.

Looking Ahead

Although international adoption in Ethiopia does have negative aspects, millions of children in Ethiopia do not have basic access to family, shelter or food. Although the international public cannot adopt in Ethiopia, individuals can still support Ethiopian children living in poverty by donating to the Save the Children cause.

– Abby Adu
Photo: Flickr

Child poverty in ZimbabweThe COVID-19 pandemic tremendously affected the lives of children in Zimbabwe. From food and health insecurities to school shutdowns, the children of this nation are in an economic, health and educational crisis. According to the World Bank, in 2019, 38.3% of  Zimbabwe’s citizens lived in poverty. Moreover, since schools closed down in Zimbabwe due to COVID-19, only 27% of impoverished children continued to engage in education and learning. However, nonprofit organizations such as Makomborero and Save the Children are taking the initiative of tackling child poverty in Zimbabwe amid COVID-19. These nonprofits offer hope for positive change through their praiseworthy work.

Makomborero’s Work

Makomborero focuses on eradicating poverty in Zimbabwe. This organization specifically tailors toward the needs of Zimbabwean children. It allocates the necessary educational resources to enable students to achieve their educational goals and ultimately escape poverty. Makomborero, meaning “blessings” in Shona, provides girls with an opportunity to engage in a mentorship program. The organization also funds the education of 10 students every year through its scholarship program. Recently, the organization built a science laboratory for students. Children got to practice and apply what they learned in a modern lab.

Despite the challenges brought about by COVID-19, Makomborero successfully persevered. This nonprofit organization was able to lift children out of poverty in myriad ways. Makomborero’s team donated “backpacks, lunch boxes, water bottles, toiletries, stationery, hand sanitizer, masks, solar lamps and food packs” to students on March 20, 2021. Additionally, 80 girls were also given “sustainable sanitary wear” due to Makomborero’s outreach efforts. As of September 2020, the organization’s sponsored students were able to attend in-person classes, thus increasing access to and quality of education.

Save the Children’s Efforts

Save the Children is an international nonprofit organization focused on reducing child poverty in Zimbabwe and other nations amid COVID-19. The nonprofit provides both short-term and long-term solutions. It has served children in Zimbabwe since 1983 by addressing the urgent food, health and educational insecurities nationwide. For example, Save the Children constructed a family tracing and reunification program to ensure the safety of Zimbabwean children. Furthermore, its emergency response program provides highly effective emergency relief aid to all children in Zimbabwe.

In 2020 alone, Save the Children positively impacted the lives of 246,000 children by allocating educational, health and other necessary resources to lift them out of poverty. Moreover, the child sponsorship program attempts to decrease the number of children living in poverty, which is currently more than 3.8 million Zimbabwean children, according to Save the Children.

Positive Progression and Outcomes

Save the Children educated 82,000 Zimbabwean children and lifted 31,000 children from poverty, according to its recorded data from 2020.. In general, approximately one million children are sponsored by U.S. citizens alone through this child sponsorship program. The positive progression of lifting children out of poverty in Zimbabwe, especially amid COVID-19, translates over to the achievements of the Makomborero organization as well.

These organizations address the urgent short-term needs of children in Zimbabwe along with long-term endeavors. The organizations are succeeding in eradicating child poverty in Zimbabwe amid COVID-19. Nonprofit organizations such as Makomborero and Save the Children play essential roles in lifting children out of poverty in Zimbabwe. The positive progression of Zimbabwean children since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic continues because of the applaudable service of organizations.

– Nora Zaim-Sassi
Photo: Flickr

Tea Plantation Workers in Sri LankaSri Lanka is one of the largest tea-producing countries globally and is home to many tea plantation workers. Sri Lanka is known for its Ceylon Tea, which is “acclaimed as the best tea in the world.” However, the process of tea cultivation is arduous and time staking, requiring meticulous care. Tea plantation workers in Sri Lanka put hours of hard work into the job. However, workers, including child workers, are often exploited and unfairly compensated. Organizations are committed to fighting for the rights and protection of tea plantation workers in countries like Sri Lanka.

History of Tea Plantations

Tea plantations, also known as tea estates, came about in the 19th century. The British Empire brought people from Southern India to work on the tea plantations. Most of these workers were from Tamil Nadu. Even though the British Empire abolished slavery, these Tamil tea plantation workers were certainly subject to conditions of slavery. The workers did not receive compensation and endured harsh working conditions “with long hours and heavy quotas.” Furthermore, the “workers lived in crowded shacks, without sanitation, running water, medical facilities or schools for their children.”

After British rule and achieving independence in 1948, Sri Lanka labeled the tea plantation workers as “temporary immigrants,” outrightly denying them citizenship despite years of employment in the country. Only about 30 years later, in the 1980s, Sri Lanka granted citizenship rights to the “descendants of Indian Tamil indentured servants.” To this day, many Tamils still work on tea plantations. While they gained some rights as Sri Lankan citizens, workers, including children, continue to face exploitative conditions.

Present Day Exploitation

Even though the tea industry is one of the foundations of Sri Lanka’s economy, tea plantation workers often experience exploitation. Laborers often walk barefoot through the hills of the tea estates and pick tea leaves for hours. To earn the daily wage, workers have to pluck a minimum amount of tea leaves. Up until this year, to receive the daily wage of 700 Sri Lankan rupees (LKR) (about $4.15) a plantation worker needed to gather at least 40 pounds of tea leaves.

Since around 2016, “tea plantation trade unions” have demanded a raise in the daily wage to 1,000 LKR. The protests finally paid off in January 2021. The Cabinet of Ministers amended the Wages Board Regulations, implementing an increase of the daily tea worker wage to a minimum of 1,000 LKR. Despite this wage increase, most tea workers still struggle to meet their basic needs. Furthermore, the workers do not receive sick leave, and since “no work means no pay,” workers cannot afford to take a day off.

Along with inadequate compensation, children also experience exploitation within the tea industry. Due to poverty, many Sri Lankan children drop out of school to earn an income to support their families. While the minimum legal working age at Regional Plantation Companies (RPCs)  is 16 years old, one study found that 73% of Sri Lankan children were engaged in employment before the age of 12. Long working hours and strenuous labor adversely impact children. Furthermore, child labor means education is not a priority, perpetuating the cycle of poverty even further.

Ethical Practices

While Sri Lankan tea plantation workers continue to battle unjust treatment, organizations aim to fight for tea plantation workers’ rights. In 2018, the Mother and Child-Friendly Tea Plantations project, funded by Save the Children Hong Kong, launched the Child Protection Policy. In partnership with Kelani Valley Plantations and Talawakelle Tea Estates, the policy “is a voluntary undertaking through which participating tea companies” promise to protect children living in tea estates from harm and exploitation.

Another organization dedicated to tea workers’ rights is the Ethical Tea Partnership. The Ethical Tea Partnership works “with tea companies, development organizations and governments to improve the lives of tea workers.” The organization works in tea-producing regions in Africa and Asia. Between 2016 and 2020, the organization’s efforts benefited more than one million tea workers across the world. Its Women of Tea program in Sri Lanka runs until the close of 2021, aiming to improve “the health and nutrition” of Sri Lankan tea plantation workers. The initiative also aims to improve “hygiene and sanitation practices and financial management strategies.”

The Way Forward

Although there is still room for progress, organizations have achieved significant success in improving the lives of tea plantation workers in Sri Lanka. With further efforts to uplift and empower tea workers, there is hope for tea plantation workers to live a life outside of poverty.

-Karuna Lakhiani
Photo: Flickr

Streamer TeoOn July 30, 2021, streamer and YouTuber TeosGame raised $60,000 for Save the Children, a 100-year-old nonprofit focused on addressing child poverty around the world. The Swedish gamer Teo used unique challenges and milestones to raise more than $50,000 from his online community during the course of the 11-hour stream, with an additional $10,000 contributed by those who watched the highlights on YouTube. The money raised will allow thousands of children to get the medical and educational help that they desperately require. Streamer Teo provides an inspiring example of how to use gaming and streaming platforms for the greater good.

The Stream

Raising money for charity is a difficult task that requires creativity to inspire individuals to contribute. Streamer Teo used a variety of entertaining games and fun milestones to incentivize people to help the cause. “Marble Run” was the first video game on the stream, a game that simulates marbles going down an extreme track of twists and turns. Each marble was labeled with a donation incentive, such as “Teo donates $100” or “Chat (referring to the stream’s viewers and commenters) donates $1.” The gamers with the first few marbles to finish would need to donate, making the donations exciting and unpredictable.

As the game went on, individual viewers requested to have their own marbles added with various donations ranging from $50 to $1,000. Another incentive that Teo used to raise money for Save the Children is donation milestones. For every $5,000 raised, Teo would spin a wheel with various punishments, such as him eating a hot pepper or getting hit in the face with a cream pie. This incentivizes galvanized contributions: whenever a milestone was in close reach, the rate of donations would rapidly increase. The creative events that Teo invented are intrinsic to the success of the fundraiser.

The Results

After 11 hours of streaming, Teo and the stream’s viewers had donated more than $50,000 to Save the Children. More than 2,800 individuals donated and more than half the money came from donations equating to less than $100. The genius contributions by Teo and his community allow Save the Children to aid vulnerable children in several ways. On Twitter, Teo posted an infographic detailing the statistics of the charity stream and the results.

According to Save the Children, the $51,000 raised during the stream can treat more than 18,000 children for pneumonia, provide more than 2,900 children with malaria pills and fill 79 bookshelves for children living in rural poverty. Alternatively, the donations can go toward building learning centers for 1,250 children who do not have access to education due to civil conflict. With humanitarian crises across the globe in countries such as Afghanistan, Haiti, Lebanon and Syria, Save the Children is providing life-saving services to millions of children in need.

The Value of Charitable Streaming Events

Even though many do not have the same platform as streamer Teo, the success of his fundraiser serves as a great example of how creativity can generate the enthusiasm needed to raise money for charity. Interactive games and other mediums that people feel they have a stake in can make donating feel more salient and easier to justify. Random events such as Marble Run encourage people to increase their donations as individuals do not know whether or not they will be the ones chosen to donate. Increasing engagement and incentivizing people to donate through fun and entertaining live events is a great way to raise money and impact the world in a positive way.

– Will Pease
Photo: Flickr

child poverty in northern IrelandPrior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the official percentage of children in Northern Ireland living in relative poverty was 22%. Although this is slightly lower than the 2018/2019 estimate of 24%, the raw number this figure translates to is staggering: approximately 100,000 children are living in relative poverty. While child poverty in Northern Ireland was decreasing, the pandemic will likely spark a long-term rise. The Resolution Foundation estimates that an additional 13,000 children could fall into poverty within the next four years. Fortunately, the government and major nonprofit organizations are working to address this issue.

Key Government Steps

The government has taken steps to minimize the effects of the pandemic on child poverty in Northern Ireland. For starters, the Minister for Communities committed to continuing welfare mitigations from the beginning of the pandemic. Additionally, the department also announced the extension of the 2016-2019 Poverty Strategy to May 2022, allowing for more thorough, long-term engagement in addressing child poverty.

Meanwhile, the Department of Education adopted a “cash-first” approach for free school meals. This reduced the burden for impoverished families by ensuring their children received food at school. Additionally, the government helped thousands of children with a “£20 uplift to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credits.” This policy is part of the government’s ongoing support to local charities in Northern Ireland’s most impoverished neighborhoods.

Action for Children

Action for Children is a U.K. children’s charity aimed at helping Ireland’s most vulnerable children and adolescents. The charity’s widespread impact throughout the last year cannot be understated as it has supported more than 15,500 children and families. The charity has helped grow the Belfast fostering service and support children at risk of homelessness. Furthermore, it has been instrumental in providing mental health support outlets, helping to improve the emotional wellbeing of children suffering from the effects of poverty. The efforts of Action for Children positively impact children across the country.

Save the Children

Save the Children, a leading humanitarian aid organization for children, has also played an essential role in fighting child poverty in Northern Ireland. During the past year, in collaboration with local groups, the organization has provided vouchers that cover the costs of essential household items and food to help more than 3,900 children. Additionally, Save the Children has produced child poverty reports that include survey data and interviews with suffering families. The Northern Irish government is utilizing these reports to help it determine what anti-poverty policies to implement next.

Proposed Steps for Further Action

Save the Children outlined a list of recommendations in its 2021 report on child poverty in Northern Ireland. The report proposes that the government should take three key steps:

  • Strengthen the welfare mitigations package, including providing added packages for families that are not part of the two-child welfare limit.
  • Initiate the policies put forward by the Anti-Poverty Expert Advisory Panel for the Anti-Poverty Strategy.
  • Continue to support the £20 uplift to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credits by extending it beyond the current cut-off point, which is September 2021.

Moving forward, it is essential that the government take these recommendations and others into consideration. With continued efforts by the Northern Irish government and humanitarian organizations such as Action for Children and Save the Children, child poverty in Northern Ireland will hopefully decrease in the coming years, in spite of the pandemic.

– Gabriel Sylvan
Photo: Flickr