Poverty StoplightFundación Paraguaya has developed a tool to help families self-assess their poverty level and develop a personalized plan to improve their status.

Named the Poverty Stoplight, the initiative uses technology and various methodologies to create a custom poverty elimination plan, breaking down an overwhelming situation into smaller, more manageable problems and putting families in charge of their situation.

First, families take an online visual survey to determine their level of poverty. They are assessed on six different groups of poverty indicators: Income and Employment, Health and Environment, Housing and Infrastructure, Education and Culture, Organization and Participation and Interiority and Motivational.

Through a technology software developed by Hewlet Packard, each family receives 50 poverty indicators of red, yellow or green (red = extreme poverty, yellow = poverty, green = not living in poverty). For instance, fetching water from a contaminated river is an extreme poverty/red indicator, while having a water faucet in the house is a green/non-poverty indicator.

Trained members under Fundación Paraguaya work with each family based on their strengths and weaknesses in each category. The mentors make families aware of the tools they have within themselves that can be used to build a life out of poverty.

The Poverty Stoplight technology also provides information on neighbors who are not living in poverty and may be able to help them build homes and businesses.

The goal is to disrupt the typical cycles families in poverty go through, improving their status for their children and future generations.

The Paraguayan Government has been using the technology to refocus social workers on the main problems contributing to poverty.

A Google map overlay of Poverty Stoplight families highlights main poverty contributors, such as lack of proper vaccinations, clean water or proper sanitation. This overview allows social workers to provide the proper help to families in need and give them a jump start towards a better life.

Poverty Stoplight has had much success in helping impoverished families build a better life. In its first three years of operation, they have been able to help the welfare of around 18,000 families (92,000 people).

USAID has been a big contributor to the program, providing $500,000 in funding alongside other donors (who donated a total of $1 million). “This replicable project illustrates how relatively small amounts of foreign assistance can generate promising, tangible steps toward reducing poverty,” notes USAID.

Based upon a family’s motivation and the skills they have, a plan can be constructed to not only reduce their level of poverty but to eliminate the poverty cycle altogether. The customization of the project and effectiveness of the technology is what makes Poverty Stoplight as promising as it is.

Casey Marx

Photo: Pixabay

Sometime the desire to help others is smothered by the strain of life. Work, bills and other obligations can quickly pile up until any offer of assistance is impossible to carry out. But what if you could help others just by living? Here are three super ways to give something back and get some chores done at the same time.

1. Update Your Wardrobe

Cleaning out your closet can be tedious work, but it can also be therapeutic. Experts say that organization can improve a person’s mental and emotional state. Will Edwards, founder of White Dove Books, explains that organization has been proven to lower stress, boost motivation and save someone valuable time and energy. De-cluttering your wardrobe can help de-clutter your mind. Anything that hasn’t been worn in the last six months should be pulled. “Placeholder items” waste valuable closet space. Put unused clothes to use by donating to a local shelter or donating funds from a yard sale to your favorite cause.

For those needing to add to their wardrobe, online retailers offer weekly sales. Some sites, like Amazon, allow shoppers to donate a percentage of their purchase amount to their favorite charity. Beginning at their favorite charity website, donors locate the Amazon link and shop to their hearts’ delight. After checkout, a certain percentage is sent to the selected organization.

Need to compare different retailers? Some search engines donate change for each internet search generated.

2. Clean Out Your Pantry

Have a pantry full of staples that never seem to get used? Clean it out and donate non-perishables to the nearest food bank or volunteer your time. Fall and winter are the busiest times for charities and any assistance is appreciated. For those lacking the time, there are other ways to help others.

Non-governmental organizations worldwide have committed to providing food relief to developing nations. They recognize that people cannot focus on stimulating the economy if they go to bed hungry. Groups like Food for Life provide food relief for millions of impoverished people on a daily basis and donations are readily accepted.

3. Put On Some Music

When the stress of cleaning gets to be too much, turn on some music. It has been reported that music can greatly reduce stress and even reduce pain. Be sure to take a break and buy a new cd or check out a concert. But taking a break from chores does not mean that you can’t give back.

In recent years, musicians have redirected global focus to the plight of the world’s poor. Every genre has at least one song about poverty and recent collaborations have generated an explosion of music relief efforts. Organizations such as Music For Relief have raised over $5 million since 2004 and music providers like iTunes have designed a variety of apps to assist non-profits in fundraising.

– Jasmine D. Smith

Sources: Amazon, Ezine, Food for Life, Huffington PostiTunes
Photo: All Posters