charities operating in UkraineAmid a full-scale war in Ukraine, several charities operating in Ukraine aim to support the country’s people.

5 Charities Operating in Ukraine

  1. Serhiy Prytula Foundation. Starting in 2014 when Russia occupied Crimea and Donbas, Ukrainian TV presenter and politician Serhiy Prytula began volunteer work. In 2020, he launched the Serhiy Prytula Foundation. The charity in Ukraine raises funding for military and humanitarian aid in the country. Prytula runs his social media very actively, keeping people updated on all the work he and his team are doing. In February 2023, the foundation delivered humanitarian aid to Ukraine’s frontlines and de-occupied territories. The team supplied regions with 485 medical kits, more than 47,000 medical units of crucial medicaments and about 2,000 kits of food, self-hygiene products and clothes.
  2. UNITED24. This is an official fundraising platform that has operated since May 2022 when Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy officially launched it. The platform focuses on three areas for fundraising that it lists as “Defence and Demining,” “Medical Aid” and “Rebuild Ukraine.” As of March 2023, the charity has collected more than $300 million worth of funding. On top of collecting funds, the platform leads a strong media campaign to enlighten people all over the world about the events unfolding in Ukraine. UNITED24’s ambassadors include well-known figures, such as historian Timothy Snyder, legendary football player Andriy Shevchenko and heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk. One of UNITED24’s latest projects involves a collaboration with Uber. The project aims to raise money for the Ministry of Health in Ukraine to secure Type-C ambulance vehicles to rescue victims of attacks.
  3. Razom. Razom, which means “together” in Ukrainian, is a Ukrainian-American charity that appeared during the Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine in 2014. The first actions of support took place in late December 2013. People in New York gathered to support Ukrainians in their fight for democracy. In a month, Razom registered its work officially and started to help Ukraine by sending humanitarian aid and carrying out educational events. The foundation puts a lot of effort into building a strong community that will help develop Ukraine. Razom declares its mission as “unlocking Ukraine’s potential and building toward a more prosperous, democratic nation.” The charity has a number of projects, including Toy Drive and With You. The Toy Drive “provides assistance to children from families of Ukrainian militaries who died or were injured during the combat operations,” the Razom website says. The project provides school resources, gifts for special occasions and other essentials. With You aims to provide psychological help for people traumatized by war. Eight psychologists operating in two support centers have carried out more than 300 individual and group sessions.
  4. Leleka Foundation. This is a nonprofit organization started by Ukrainians living in the U.S. in late 2014. It aims to supply medical aid to the country. Along with tactical first aid supplies, the Leleka Foundation purchases medical equipment and evacuation vehicles. Since the beginning of the full-scale war, the Leleka Foundation supplied the army with more than 1,500 medical backpacks and more than 17,000 individual first aid kits. The Leleka Foundation also provides help for elderly people evacuated from hot zones in Ukraine. The organization helps with accommodation and cost of living support that the Ukrainian government is unable to provide.
  5. Save the Children. Save the Children is an international organization that aims to support children and help them build a bright future. Many Ukrainians have become refugees abroad and require support. Since the onset of the war in February 2022, Save the Children has gathered £400 million via the DEC Ukraine Appeal to help children and families in Ukraine, Poland and Romania. Over the past year, Save the Children has helped about 1.1 million Ukrainians.

Amid the war in Ukraine, charities play an important role in meeting the needs of both troops and civilians.

– Anna Konovalenko
Photo: Courtesy of Anna Konovalenko

Charities Aiding Children in Sierra Leone
Life has been extraordinarily difficult for children living in Sierra Leone. An 11-year civil war, Ebola outbreak and poor quality of education have severely impacted children across the country. However, despite the hardship that children in the country have faced over the past 20 years, charities are working to improve education and health care for children in Sierra Leone.

4 Charities Aiding Children in Sierra Leone

  1. Save the Children. Headquartered in the United Kingdom, Save the Children provides children with education and health support in more than 100 countries. Since 1999, it has worked in Sierra Leone to improve the health, education and protection of children in the country. In terms of learning, the organization provides children with educational tools and facilities to set them up for future employment. The children’s rights charity focuses on increasing school attendance and retention. Due to widespread poverty, Sierra Leone suffers from very low school attendance rates with a UNICEF statistic illustrating that only 22% of students complete upper secondary school. Absence from school prevents children from gaining employable skills that allow for an economically independent future. Save the Children puts focus on aiding the most marginalized children, such as those living in slums or in kinship care, to improve their future prospects and avoid contributing to already high unemployment and illiteracy rates.
  2. Sierra Leone War Trust for Children. Throughout Sierra Leone’s 11-year civil war, many children experienced both physical and mental trauma. The Sierra Leone War Trust For Children is a trust that promotes “education, health, rehabilitation and self-sufficiency” among children impacted by the nation’s history of violence so that they can live economically independent and prosperous lives as adults. The trust not only focuses on the harms of the civil war; it also aids children suffering from more recent issues in the country such as the Ebola outbreak of 2014. Ebola orphans have received school supplies from the trust’s projects to improve education and ensure future employability. The Sierra Leone War Trust For Children has aided 5,000 impoverished children in the country and has raised more than $1 million through donations.
  3. Lilomi. Lilomi is a children’s charity based in the U.K. that ensures better health care and educational facilities/resources for children in Sierra Leone. It works at the Jonathan’s Child Care school and orphanage in the city of Bo providing safe sanitary spaces and higher-quality school equipment, among other efforts. Inadequate access to hygiene and sanitation facilities remains a prevalent issue in Sierra Leone. The Lilomi team built a new set of hygienic toilet blocks in the school/orphanage in 2021 with the aim of protecting children against preventable illnesses. Schools across Sierra Leone are severely underequipped making it difficult for educational facilities to teach practical skills. In order to prevent this from limiting the horizons of children in Bo, in 2019, Lilomi provided the school/orphanage with funds for science equipment, now expanding the scope of learning in science and mathematics. Following this success, the charity has made plans to go one step further and build a science lab for the school.
  4. SOS Children’s Villages. SOS Children’s Villages is a nonprofit organization that has delivered support for children and young adults in Sierra Leone since 1974. The nonprofit organization provides children lacking parental care with a safe home. As a result of the civil war ending in 2002, a third of Sierra Leone became internally displaced and many children lost their families. SOS Children’s Villages helps children to find lost relatives so they can grow up with their families. In the case where a child has no relatives, the organization provides an SOS parent who supports them through difficult periods of adjustment. The organization also runs community schools and kindergartens that have given 3,000 children access to education.

Children-focused charities in Sierra Leone have made monumental efforts in combating the consequences of civil war, Ebola and widespread poverty. By prioritizing the safety of children across the country, charitable organizations can ensure a future generation of healthy and prosperous adults.

– Freddie Trevanion
Photo: Flickr

Child Soldiers in South Sudan
South Sudan has one of the “youngest populations in the world, with more than 70% under the age of 30.” The U.N. included South Sudan in its shame list; a list of nations responsible for abuses against children during armed conflict. Following independence in 2011, the region has suffered “subnational violence,” which has led to the recruitment and exploitation of child soldiers in South Sudan.

Child soldiers are those under the age of 18 who join armed militias and are used in combat as fighters, spies and suicide bombers. Some become cooks and messengers and often enter into child marriage. Nations all over the world continue to use child soldiers recruited by both armed forces and groups beyond government control. Due to reduced regulation, non-state forces recruit more child soldiers, which makes the issue more difficult to challenge. These groups often recruit children by force, either through abduction or coercion or lure them with financial or drug-related assurances. However, some also join voluntarily, arguably with little comprehension of what participation will involve.

South Sudanese Independence and Civil War

In 2011, South Sudan became an independent state. In 2013, the country entered a civil war after rising political power struggles resulted in a war between the forces of President Salva Kiir, the armed opposition Sudan People’s Liberation Army and other smaller armed groups. The violence became worse once leaders began to supply communities with weapons. The South Sudanese conflict, combined with mistrust of government spending and corruption, caused international aid to dry up, which was particularly consequential for a country that relied so heavily on it.

Overall, civil war has had dire humanitarian consequences, with the U.N. declaring hunger and famine to be the worst since the country gained independence. Civilians, especially women and children, continue to suffer at the hands of armed groups and security forces.

Child Soldiers in South Sudan

South Sudan has notoriously used child soldiers in conflict. The precise number is difficult to determine due to the unregulated nature of the crime. UNICEF reported that out of the formally released recruited children in the Western Equatoria state of South Sudan, individuals younger than 15 accounted for 28% of this group. In South Sudan, armed forces recruit more boys than girls. According to Theirworld, children are susceptible to recruitment as child soldiers, when suffering from poverty, displacement or familial separation, which due to the civil war, are all conditions existent in South Sudan.

Looking to the Future

UNICEF plays a vital part in addressing the violations against children in South Sudan. This process involves the release and reintegration of each child and is essential to preventing the normalization of child soldiers. Through the signing and ratification of numerous legal frameworks, such as the Convention of the Rights of the Child and the South Sudan Child Act, the South Sudanese Government has committed to no longer using children in conflict. Since 2015, UNICEF has facilitated the release of 3,677 child soldiers in South Sudan. But, this is not possible without funding as the reintegration program that UNICEF provides costs $2,000 per child.

The family tracing and reunification teams at Save the Children are also instrumental in reuniting former child soldiers with their families. The organization works with local leaders, teachers and police to create “safe spaces” for the protection of child refugees and children who have experienced displacement following the war.

Because more than one in five children in South Sudan suffers from malnourishment, Save the Children trains health workers to address this and runs centers to distribute free medical care specifically tackling this issue. For many former child soldiers in South Sudan, who often miss out on education, it can be difficult to make a living, which is why Save the Children teaches young people vocational skills.

Looking toward the future, South Sudan is taking the steps to stop the use of child soldiers within the country and UNICEF and Save the Children play pivotal roles in this.

– Bethan Marsden
Photo: Flickr

Turkey-Syria Earthquake
Following the devastating Turkey-Syria earthquake on February 6, 2023, both governments and NGOs alike have begun mobilizing much-needed aid to the most affected areas. What one cannot overlook, however, is the trauma and mental health effects that the earthquake induced. The psychological impact that devastating natural disasters can have is significant on its own. Together with previous traumas, including war, disease and other natural disasters, mental health support becomes a crucial part of providing aid to victims, which is the case in both Turkey and Syria.

Natural Disasters and Mental Health

According to a review of various studies by the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, a sudden disruption of victims’ lives, which “brings loss for individuals, families and communities,” heightens the despair and shock that often follows the immediate aftermath of a devastating natural disaster. Individuals’ roles in their respective communities are also experiencing disruption, which can lead to a loss of identity. A lack or loss of resources and a disruption in daily routine further worsen acute psychological stress, which often results in overwhelming stress, grief and sadness, leading some to turn to substance abuse to cope with their new conditions.

The experiences of natural disaster victims can manifest into serious prolonged psychological issues, including “emotional instability, stress reactions, anxiety, trauma and other psychological symptoms.” Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is also very common and coexists with feelings of “unnecessary fear, hopelessness, worthlessness and helplessness.” Although the journal notes that “most affected individuals recover with time” when they receive care, some individuals have a far more difficult path to recovery and can even begin experiencing persistent and severe psychotic symptoms.

Trauma in Children

The psychological impacts of the Turkey-Syria earthquake are present in both countries, particularly among children, who are perhaps the most vulnerable population that the natural disasters affect. According to Save the Children, numerous psychologists showed concern about the mental well-being of the roughly 7 million children that the earthquake affected, citing various indicators of acute stress, including “nightmares, aggression or being withdrawn.” The potential long-term effects are concerning as well, as these stressors can impact school performance and overall quality and enjoyment of life. Save the Children also stresses that mental health aid is evermore crucial considering that many caregivers do not have information or resources on how to treat or manage these symptoms.

Pre-Existing Mental Health Crisis

The Turkey-Syria earthquake only adds to pre-existing mental health issues in Turkey and Syria. Significant numbers of people in both countries suffer from mental health disorders. In Turkey, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 17% of Turkey’s population faces mental health issues, while only about 10.8% seek mental health treatment each year. WHO also states that cases of anxiety and depression have significantly increased in recent years, citing “repeated natural disasters, migration, economic downturn and the COVID-19 pandemic” as primary causes.

In 2022, the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) conducted a study that demonstrates the severity of the mental health crisis in Syria. The results showed that male household members showed signs of distress in 60% of households surveyed, with that number being 58% for women. Additionally, 27% of households report psychological stress in their children, and 26% of children stated that the reason they do not want to attend school is because of depression, unhappiness and/or lack of motivation.

Syrian refugees in Turkey are also at risk of mental health disorders. According to 2020 data from the World Health Organization, the depression and PTSD rates among Syrian refugees in Turkey who have experienced the conflict were 11% and 15%, respectively. WHO also estimates that 22% of overall suffer from a mental disorder.

Potential Solutions

Providing much-needed mental health services to those who the Turkey-Syria earthquake affected is a crucial aspect of aid. Enhanced Learning and Research for Humanitarian Assitance (ELRHA) has recommended its own Community-based Disaster Mental Health Intervention (CBDMHI) manual as a relevant and potentially useful tool for mental health support. Developed in October 2016 following a devastating earthquake in Nepal in April 2015, the manual aims to teach mental health service providers about various self-care practices, as well as how to effectively treat mental health symptoms in earthquake survivors. The organization distributed more than 2,000 manuals to local governments and NGOs and found that the intervention helped both mental health service providers and vulnerable community members alike, reducing depression and increasing job satisfaction for the former and reducing depression and PTSD for the latter.

Save the Children is also mobilizing mental health aid to areas that the Turkey-Syria earthquake affected. It currently has mental health support teams in the region who are instructing caregivers on how to support their children through their trauma. The organization is also “setting up child-friendly spaces and child-focused psychosocial support activities” along with other forms of assistance to children and families.

Providing mental health services during this time is crucial to ensuring that victims can return to their pre-disaster lives as soon as possible. The work of NGOs, as well as funding from the U.N., will be valuable in achieving this.

– Adam Cvik
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in Jordan
According to UNICEF Jordan, one in five out of Jordan’s 3.16 million children endure multidimensional poverty. Children living in poverty suffer from a lack of health care options, inaccessible education, shortages of clean drinking water and nutritious food and lack of knowledge on proper hygiene practices. With the help of nonprofit organizations, child poverty in Jordan can reduce.

Children Face the Harshest Impacts of Poverty

In Jordan, refugee and stateless children suffer the greatest from extreme poverty. This is because, in Jordan, a child only receives citizenship based on the status of their father’s citizenship. This leaves children of single mothers or of multi-nationality households without rights. Public education and government-funded programs are not accessible to these children. A lack of access to education also keeps children rooted in cycles of poverty.

With 63% of Jordan’s population aged 30 years and younger, the impacts of poverty have hit Jordan’s younger population the hardest. In developing countries such as Jordan, with a national poverty rate of 15.7% in 2019, poverty also impacts the quality of health care services provided by medical centers as these centers typically lack essential resources and skilled professionals. Without adequate health care and nutrition, child mortality rates rise.

According to the World Bank, Jordan’s under-5 child mortality rate stood at 15 per 1,000 births in 2020. For reference, the global under-5 child mortality rate stood at about 37 deaths per every 1,000 births in the same year. Jordan’s child mortality rate has reduced significantly from 27 deaths in 2000, likely due to increased health care provisions.

Save the Children Takes Action

Save the Children has worked in Jordan since 1974, aiding more than 1.5 million children and families annually. Save the Children says every one out of 63 children in Jordan does not live to celebrate their fifth birthday, which is nine times higher than the rate in the United States. The organization provides resources to support the protection, health and education of vulnerable children in Jordan, regardless of their citizenship status.

For instance, from 2012 to 2022, Save the Children ran Early Childhood Care and Development Centers in the governates and refugee camps Azraq, Zaatari and Irbid. “These centers accommodate children aged 3 to 5 years, including children with disabilities, and work on preparing them for basic education by providing them with psychological, social and emotional support. The children also receive classes in writing, reading and mathematics, the organization’s website says. The organization also works on providing training for parents and caregivers to enhance their ability to contribute to the development of their children and improve children’s academic performance.

Looking Ahead in the Fight Against Child Poverty in Jordan

While child poverty in Jordan is prevalent, Save the Children is making a significant difference to improve health and education among children in Jordan. Through its continued work, as well as international aid, vulnerable children in Jordan should continue to receive the help they need.

– Leah Smith
Photo: Flickr

Charities Operating in Pakistan
Giving charity is important to many people living in Pakistan. In fact, a study from 2021 reported that 84% of people gave charity during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in one way or another. It was also reported that 79% of those unemployed also gave charity at some point. With the country currently struggling with financial debt and food crises, the value of charity has risen in importance. Below are five charities operating in Pakistan.

5 Charities Operating in Pakistan

  1. Islamic Relief: This charity operates throughout Pakistan, working with communities to implement sustainable and innovative projects. In Azad Jammu and Kashmir, the organization worked to show communities how to adapt to the effects of changing weather patterns. In the aftermath of the summer floods of 2022, Islamic Relief worked to rebuild villages, install water and sanitation facilities and helped to rebuild small businesses and housing. In addition, the charity had a seasonal aid program, including a 1:1 child sponsorship program. In 2005, Islamic Relief received an award from the Government of Pakistan for its efforts during the devastating earthquakes that year.
  2. AAM Nation Care: AAM Nation Care is a charity that aims to help those who are poor and less fortunate in Pakistan. Its work occurs through a multidimensional approach, as it will reach out to low-income communities and help them develop specific ways to grow and find aid. The charity’s work includes establishing a free online academy to educate poor students and provide lower-income families with food and cash.
  3. Save the Children: Save the Children is a world-renowned organization that is a global leader in helping children to prevent, prepare and recover from calamities due to changing weather patterns. The charity first started working in Pakistan in 1979, through its work with Afghan refugees. Today, its work includes providing child rights and development and humanitarian response programs. In addition, it works alongside many other charities operating in Pakistan and Pakistani civil society to implement programs that work with child health, nutrition, education, protection, disaster response and preparedness and gender equality. In the last year, Save the Children helped more than 19,000 children in Pakistan.
  4. Red Cross: The Red Cross is an organization that has been working for almost 150 years, and is the largest humanitarian network in the world. The charity worked tirelessly during the recent floods to ensure aid reached all the affected areas. The primary focus of their relief effort continues to involve saving lives, providing temporary shelter and blankets to those whose homes were destroyed and clean water, food, medical support and sanitation to prevent the spread of water-borne diseases. In addition, the Pakistan Red Crescent works currently to help relieve the pressure on the health care system, supporting households and helping local communities.
  5. Human Appeal: Since 2006, Human Appeal has been one of the major charities operating in Pakistan. Subsequently, they have implemented several different relief programs, by supporting education, livelihoods and clean water projects. Its current programs include constructing girls’ primary schools, education for orphaned girls, providing COVID-19 protection kits, supporting small businesses and providing schools with water coolers.

Looking Ahead

In Pakistan, estimates have indicated that 30% of people continue to live in poverty. The recent floods alleviated several issues in the country, including the loss of large amounts of agricultural land and livestock. However, there are many charities operating in Pakistan that work tirelessly and efficiently to provide aid to those who most need it.

Saad Haque
Photo: Flickr

Programs in Afghanistan
Three NGOs resumed programs in Afghanistan after an order from Taliban authorities on December 24, 2022, prevented women from working in non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Organizations like Save the Children, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and CARE have now restarted work across the country.

The order for both foreign and local NGOs to suspend female staff came after the Taliban claimed that female aid workers were not adhering to the strict dress code currently enforced in Afghanistan. As Taliban rules dictate that men must not deliver assistance to women, the ban has made it extremely difficult for NGOs to work, as they can only effectively support half the population. As a result, most NGOs have now suspended operations in Afghanistan.

Humanitarian Programs Resume

However, three weeks after the Taliban announced the orders, Save the Children, the IRC and CARE resumed their health and nutrition services after receiving assurances from the Ministry of Public Health that it would be safe for their female staff to return to work. Save the Children has also confirmed that it is restarting some education programs, while the IRC is working with provincial authorities to discuss the possibility of female staff returning to work in other sectors.

This week, the U.N.’s Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Martin Griffiths, also confirmed that Taliban ministers were in the process of drawing up new guidelines to allow some humanitarian organizations to employ Afghani women. Mr. Griffiths told the BBC that he thought the Taliban were “listening” and had received “encouraging responses” after numerous meetings with Taliban leaders to discuss the ban on female NGO workers.

Restrictions on Women’s Rights and the Humanitarian Crisis

The Taliban’s ban on female NGO workers is just one of the numerous restrictions placed on women in the country since they came into power in 2021. Driven by an oppressive and patriarchal interpretation of Islam, the Jihadist group has undone much of the previous efforts to liberalize the country in years before their takeover. Women in Afghanistan are currently subject to strict dress codes, unable to attend schools or universities and cannot enter certain public spaces such as gyms or parks.

Women are witnessing the loss of their liberties and autonomy amid an unprecedented humanitarian emergency. With 18.9 million people experiencing food insecurity, an extraordinary amount of people are set to suffer from malnutrition, starvation and preventable diseases this year. In light of this, the need for NGOs to provide aid and address inequalities is more prevalent than ever.

NGOs Helping

As NGOs resume programs in Afghanistan, services from Save the Children, the IRC and CARE in Afghanistan will hopefully provide some relief during this humanitarian crisis. Since the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, Save the Children has provided more than 3.3 million people (1.8 million of those being children) with nutritional, educational and mental health services, as well as essential aid such as blankets, materials to build shelters and hygiene products.

The IRC has also provided aid to thousands of villages across nine provinces in Afghanistan. It is currently supporting more than 100 health centers, helping locals with community development projects and improving access to education, particularly in rural areas. The organization is also leading the fight to protect and empower women and girls in the country by providing them with education opportunities, giving advice on women’s health and teaching them advocacy skills in its Afghan Women and Girls Program.

CARE runs three programs in Afghanistan. Its Resilience Program works to protect women’s social and political rights and seeks to promote female engagement in business, for instance through agricultural production. Its Education Program also provides children with access to education through a community-based approach, whilst its Health Equity and Rights Program provides health care to vulnerable adults and children.

While some of these services are still under suspension due to the ban, the resumption of programs in Afghanistan in the health and nutrition sector is bringing some hope and optimism to a struggling country. With continuing negotiations between the U.N. and the Taliban to try and reverse the decrees restricting women’s rights, it is vital that people continue to support NGOs in the hope that more humanitarian sectors will start to open up for women to work in.

– Priya Thakkar
Photo: Flickr

Charities Operating in Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso is a country located in West Africa. Its name translates to “the land of the incorruptible people.”It has a population of 21.5 million people and is one of the poorest countries in the world, with more than 40% of its people living below the poverty line. Despite the vast amount of humanitarian work conducted throughout the country addressing changing weather patterns and sustainability, Burkina Faso is still vulnerable to frequent natural disasters, including droughts, floods and diseases. Charities including Save the Children, SOS Children’s Villages, CECI, Humanity & Inclusion and Caritas work tirelessly to help alleviate poverty throughout Burkina Faso through education, provision of clean water and sanitation along with human development and the survival of children. Here is some information about the above five charities operating in Burkina Faso.

Poverty Situation in Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso, as mentioned before, remains one of the poorest countries in the world, with 40% of people living below the poverty line. According to the Human Development Index report that the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) carried out in 2021-2022, Burkina Faso ranks 184th out of 191 countries. In the last few years, poverty in Burkina Faso has correlated with consistent political instability and violence the country continues to face with many people being displaced. With heavy reliance on agriculture as its primary source of economic development, Burkina Faso has suffered due to low agricultural output by 4.1%. With violence and political unrest, more than 900,000 people are internally displaced and remain in extreme poverty. This mostly affects children, with more than half of the 2.2 million people in Burkina Faso seeking humanitarian assistance being children. 

Save the Children

One of the five charities operating in Burkina Faso is Save the Children, which began working in Burkina Faso in 1982. With children at the forefront of the organization’s focus, Save the Children works tirelessly to ensure security in their lives. Save the Children has become one of the biggest charitable organizations in Burkina Faso through its programs dedicated to education, safety and child health. Some of the work the organization has carried out revolves around multiple aspects of quality of life. It includes greater access to universal health care, resources and tools for treating malnutrition in children, food programs to combat insecurity and malnutrition and financial discipline teachings to help families support themselves and maintain quality health care. 

SOS Children’s Villages

The organization came to Burkina Faso during the 1990s and established itself in 1997 north of the nation’s capital; since 2004, SOS Children’s Villages has taken the initiative of operating SOS Family Strengthening Programs that ensure that children can grow and live in an environment of familiarity in the case that the child loses its family. One of SOS Children’s Villages operates in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso with a population of 1.5 million people. SOS Children’s Villages’ work in Ouagadougou, specifically the SOS Social Center revolves around its mission to ensure that children have access to health care, education and social services through family strengthening programs. SOS Children’s Villages is among the five charities operating in Burkina Faso that help families and children find social security while providing access to the very necessities required to survive.

Humanity & Inclusion

Burkina Faso became the first country where the organization began its work in 1991, focusing on “defending the rights of people with disabilities and responding to the urgent needs of the people affected by conflict.” Humanity & Inclusion’s work in Burkina Faso spans multiple facets, including physical rehabilitation, maternal and child health, inclusive education, disaster risk reduction and mental health and psychosocial support, along with road safety and protection. Humanity & Inclusion is one of the five charities in Burkina Faso that works tirelessly to address poverty in Burkina Faso by focusing on development, health and rehabilitation. The organization’s 187 members undertook 12 projects within the country, with 50% working on humanitarian efforts and 25% on chronic crises and 25% on development needs in 2021. 


The organization emerged in 1956 and began operations in Burkina Faso in 1998. Caritas’ presence covers the entire country of Burkina Faso through its “15 diocesan offices and more than 200 Caritas parish branches.” By utilizing the branches, Caritas “aims to promote mainly community and integral human development, social justice, peace and human rights.” Caritas Burkina offers programs that align with its goals of alleviating poverty by solely focusing its work on women and families along with younger individuals through humanitarian development that fosters solidarity and sharing of resources to help facilitate expansion.

The Barka Foundation

The Barka Foundation is an organization that began in 2006 and is based in the United States. It began its work in Burkina Faso in 2009. The Barka Foundation is a younger charity compared to other charities discussed. Still, regardless of longevity, the Barka Foundation is among the five charities that operate in Burkina Faso. The organization focuses its work from a perspective of longevity and community-driven programs involving accessibility to clean water, agriculture improvement, women’s empowerment and human rights and minimizing the effects of changing weather patterns. The Barka Foundation sets itself apart from other organizations working in Burkina Faso by ensuring that its mission to alleviate and combat poverty does not obstruct the lives of the indigenous people, thereby mitigating western influence and developing relationships with them to help provide them with basic survival needs.

Looking Ahead

All the charities mentioned above work tirelessly to address poverty in Burkina Faso. Each charity offers and provides unique programs and initiatives to help the people of Burkina Faso access necessities such as health care, rehabilitation and social and economic security, along with tools to combat the effects of changing weather patterns and, most notably education and security for children affected.

Arijit Joshi
Photo: Flickr

Education in Rural Mongolia
After the collapse of socialism in the late 80s and early 90s, education for rural Mongolian children suffered due to a lack of financing for the country’s rural schools. Fortunately, changes in government policy and assistance from NGOs over the last 15-20 years have slowly but surely improved education in rural Mongolia.

Poverty Among Mongolian Herders

As of 2021, about 31% of Mongolia’s population lived in rural areas and as much as 40% of the population lives a herding lifestyle. In 2020, the World Bank pegged Mongolia’s rural poverty rate at 31%, with herders accounting for three-fifths of the rural poor.

Rural Education Issues

While basic education in Mongolia (grades 1 through 12) is free under the country’s constitution, attending school can be difficult for rural families.

Herder families struggle because they move around several times a year to find pastures for their herds. As such, many children move into dormitories at boarding schools. During Mongolia’s socialist era, the country was able to establish a well-functioning and convenient boarding school system for rural children, but after the collapse of socialism, authorities neglected rural development, which resulted in poorly maintained boarding schools.

Between 1990 and 1992, “public spending on education as a share of GDP” decreased by close to 50%, many rural schools suffered bankruptcy and many educators abandoned their professions due to lack of payment.

Because of financial neglect, about one-fifth of dormitories do not have proper heating and lack water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities, according to data from 2015. For example, a dorm in Tarialan soum (a part of a province) in Northwest Mongolia did not have a single running toilet, so students had to use a “dirty, cold, bad-smelling” pit latrine outside, with no way to wash their hands with clean water. In 2014, UNICEF established indoor toilets and hygiene facilities in the dormitory.

Another problem with education in Mongolia is that many teachers in rural schools graduate from “low-quality private teacher training institutes,” making them underqualified for teaching.

Rural Mongolians also have low access to early childhood education (ECE) services. While progress has been visible over the last few decades, herder children’s access to ECE services remained low as of 2016. According to a UNICEF fact sheet from 2020, ECE attendance is 1.5 to 2.2 times lower among 2-4-year-olds in rural areas than in urban ones and 19% to 26% lower among children aged 5.

These issues contribute to a gap in education quality between rural and urban schools. Due to high dropouts in the mid-90s, in 2013, the level of literacy among males aged 15-24 stood at 98.4% in urban areas, but dropped to 88.2% in rural areas. The percentage of out-of-school primary school children in 2018 stood at 5% in rural areas compared to 2% in urban areas and children from herder households accounted for around 68% of out-of-school children in 2013/2014.

Improving Facilities

To improve access to education in rural Mongolia, the government built 37 new dormitories across the country between 2014 and 2017 and planned to create an additional 19 between 2018 and 2019. In 2015, Mongolia established specific standards for WASH facilities in schools and dorms to improve conditions.

In addition, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) provided a grant in 2015 to renovate 12 dormitories in the Govi-Altai, Uvs and Zavkhan aimags (provinces) in western Mongolia, as a part of the Improving School Dormitory Environment for Primary Students in Western Region Project. The renovations included insulating buildings, installing “safe electric systems” and establishing more WASH facilities.

Supporting Teachers

Mongolia’s government has worked since 2006 to enhance financial support for rural teachers. The 2006 and 2016 amendments to the Law on Education give financial support to teachers in rural schools and kindergartens. Furthermore, a “teacher salary reform” in 2007 helped to improve the income inequalities between rural and urban teachers.

Outside of the government, the World Bank created the Rural Education and Development (READ) Project (2007-2013) to improve the standard of education in rural schools. The training of educators and principals formed one of the project’s objectives. A total of 4,144 rural primary educators and 383 school directors received training to improve teaching skills and strategies. The project also established a “local professional development network” with 95 main schools and 178 mentor educators.

Enhancing Access to Early Childhood Education

To provide ECE services for rural Mongolians, Save the Children, a child rights organization operating in Mongolia since 1994, alongside the World Bank and Japan Social Development Fund, implemented the project Improving Primary Education Outcomes for the Most Vulnerable Children in Rural Mongolia.

The project operated from 2012 to 2017 in four aimags (Arkhangai, Uvurkhangai, Dornod and Sukhbaatar). The program enabled the completion of the Home Based School Preparation Program for around 4,000 5-year-old herder children. The project utilized mobile learning kits with educational toys, activity books and guidebooks. The program was so effective that primary school enrollment in the four aimags rose from 72.8% in 2012-2013 to 86% in 2017-2018.

Education in rural Mongolia suffered after the collapse of the socialist educational system, but thanks to government initiatives and NGO projects, more herder children are receiving a quality education.

– James Harrington
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Assisting Flood Victims in Nigeria
Nigeria is a country in West Africa with a population of more than 210 million people. It is the most populous country in Africa and boasts one of the largest economies in Africa. Since September 2022, Nigeria has faced devastating floods that damaged Nigeria’s infrastructure and led to dire humanitarian consequences. These floods stand as the most destructive floods that Nigeria has experienced in more than 10 years. The floods have led to more than 600 deaths, more than 1 million displacements and thousands of injuries. Below are five charities assisting flood victims in Nigeria.

5 Charities Assisting Flood Victims in Nigeria

  1. International Rescue Committee (IRC). The IRC is a global relief agency that has been providing aid to Nigeria since the country’s previous extreme flooding event in 2012. The organization is committed to helping people in poor and vulnerable countries amid conflict and disasters. The IRC specifically supports Nigerians by providing them with food, water, shelter and health services. Nigeria has experienced large cholera outbreaks and an increase in preventable diseases as a result of the floods. In October 2022, the IRC helped Nigerians by providing hygiene and sanitation resources and health programming to stop the spread of these diseases. The IRC has also established three offices in Northeastern Nigeria to expand its crisis response efforts within the country. With more funding, the IRC can reach even more disaster victims in Nigeria.
  2. UNICEF Nigeria. This charity supports children in Nigeria who experience issues that stem from poverty including disease, violence and environmental disasters. Flooding in Nigeria has caused communities, such as those within Bayelsa State, to lose their homes, schools and other essential infrastructure. UNICEF has supported the Nigerian government’s response in three flood-affected states. UNICEF’s response includes “cash assistance, distribution of cholera kits, government-led mobile health teams, temporary learning centers [and] learning kits” the UNICEF website reports. With more support, this organization can scale its efforts and provide critical supplies, including medication, to those who need it the most.
  3. Save the Children Nigeria. For more than 20 years, the organization has supported vulnerable Nigerian children and their families. A November 2022 press release highlights Save the Children’s assistance to flood victims across several countries. In Nigeria specifically, Save the Children is providing flood victims with “life-saving food, safe drinking water, cash assistance, mattresses, blankets, mosquito nets, child protection services and emergency shelter kits,” according to the press release. The organization is assisting 36,000 children and 18,000 families in six of those most affected states.
  4. Nigerian Red Cross Society. This organization came about in 1960 through a parliamentary act. The organization helps vulnerable Nigerians facing “disaster, epidemics, armed conflicts” and other issues that bring humanitarian consequences. The Nigerian Red Cross announced an emergency appeal for funding in early November 2022 to raise more money for victims of Nigeria’s recent floods. This aid would support victims across Nigeria on a large scale. The charity has already mobilized more than 10,000 volunteers and hundreds of staff members to assist with “evacuation, camp management and relief activities.”
  5. United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). This United Nations body is dedicated to coordinating and strengthening international humanitarian responses to disasters. The OCHA facilitates effective responses to global emergencies, such as the floods in Nigeria, by mobilizing support and funding for affected nations. OCHA’s humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria has called for more support from the international community regarding flood relief efforts in Nigeria as well as a more coordinated effort to mitigate climate-related disasters.

Looking Ahead

These five charities assisting flood victims in Nigeria work to provide essential resources and aid to people who need help. Through their work into the future, flooding victims in Nigeria should be able to continue receiving support.

– Dylan Priday
Photo: Wikimedia Commons